Trial of Two Former Judicial Officers

The trial against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Kol Retired Hj Abdul Rahman and Hj Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin was heard in the High Court yesterday. The Second Defendant was cross-examined by Jonathan Caplan QC who appeared on behalf of the Public Prosecutor.

Section 165 of the Penal Code criminalises a public servant obtaining valuable thing, without or inadequate consideration, from person concerned in proceeding or business transacted by such public servant. The Public Officers Conduct and Discipline Regulations prohibits public servants and their families from receiving presents other than gifts of personal friends or relatives. These laws were highlighted by Jonathan Caplan QC and the Second Defendant said that he was aware of them.

The Second Defendant maintained that if necessary precautions are taken for example by reporting the gift received to a superior officer in the Government and given the clear to keep the gift, there should be no problems with the authorities that large amounts of cash were paid into his bank account. He said he advised the First Defendant to report the receipt of cash gift from the Malaysian national to the then Chief Justice and he believed that she did so. He even reminded her to report to her superior again on other occasions between 2000 to 2017.

When asked by the Prosecution what he would have told the authorities regarding the large sums of money in his bank account including the 2.5 million dollar the First Defendant received from his late brother, he would have said that he is not the recipient of the cash as they were gifted to his wife.

The Second Defendant said that before having to declare their assets for the investigations into this case, he did not know how much money the First Defendant received as gifts. It was only later on that he found out she received a total of 7.5 million dollar gift from both the Malaysian national and his late brother but he further said that he never knew where she kept the money. She would simply tell him that there is money to spend when they go on their shopping sprees or to buy cars.

The Second Defendant said that did not know how much money they have spent over the years between 2002 and 2018 until an officer of the Anti-Corruption Bureau gave evidence of her financial analysis over the Defendants' incomes and spending.

The Second Defendant said he was not in control of the money in his joint bank account with the First Defendant. Jonathan Caplan QC highlighted the patterns of funds deposited into their local joint accounts followed by a substantial fund transfer to the First Defendant's bank account in United Kingdom and to the Defendants' joint accounts at HSBC. According to the Second Defendant, his wife would simply tell him that she intends to make the fund transfers but they do not discuss the decisions of doing so.

On 6th of March 2013, a deposit of 150 dollar was made into their joint bank account recorded as "From Parent" in the bank statement. When asked during cross-examination, the Second Defendant said that this money could have come from his parents-in-law. He never asks the First Defendant of the monies deposited into their account but sometimes, he would tell her.

Further substantial deposits into their joint bank accounts were also highlighted and questioned by Jonathan Caplan QC. According to the Second Defendant, most of the deposits made were by the First Defendant and were her own savings of monies received from the Malaysian national.

However, between November 2011 and December 2016, a total of 670,000 thousand dollar were deposited into the joint bank account which the Second Defendant said is most likely deposited by the First Defendant from her parents and family members. He could not answer if he asked her where the money came from because he did not make the deposits.

Records on the bank statements show that between July 2013 and May 2015, almost 2 million dollars was deposited into their joint bank account and the source of these funds were sale of property or land. The Second Defendant agreed that if it was property sold by the First Defendant, he would have known but he has no recollection of any sales made by either of them.

Jonathan Caplan QC suggested that those monies came from withdrawals by the First Defendant from Official Receiver's accounts at Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam, the Second Defendant said he did not know. He has never done bankruptcy cases before and did not know how the OR's accounts are managed. He had no knowledge of how large the amounts of monies were in those accounts.

According to the bank statement, large sums of cash were deposited into the Defendants' joint bank accounts on 26th June 2015. The Second Defendant recalled going to the Cash Deposit Machine at around midnight to make the deposit. According to the Second Defendant, it had to be done at that particular time because there is a cash limit for those machines which would reset at midnight.

Tax refund receipts from shopping sprees of 64,000 and 280,000 pound sterling at Harrods and 13,777 pound sterling at Selfridges United Kingdom were brought into question. When asked where the Defendants' fund came for these spending, the Second Defendant said he believed it came from the Malaysian national.

Jonathan Caplan QC stressed that the existence of cash from the Malaysian lady is untrue but the Second Defendant disagreed. It was also highlighted by the Prosecution that there is no documents to support any transactions showing the 2.5 million dollarsS received from the First Defendant's brother and the Second Defendant agreed that there are no documents aside from his wife's statutory declaration.

The cross-examination of the Second Defendant will continue again on Monday. In the meantime, the Second Defendant is not to discuss the case with anyone as he is still on oath.

Source: Radio Television Brunei