Trial Case Against Former Judicial Officers

The case against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Retired Colonel Hj Abdul Rahman and Hj Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin resumed in the High Court yesterday. Jonathan Caplan QC who appeared on behalf of the Public Prosecutor submitted an overview of the Prosecution's case and the evidence which have been disclosed during the hearing between September and October 2019. Simon Farrell QC represented both Defendants. The First Defendant did not give evidence on oath. Farrell QC submitted that no adverse inference should be drawn against the First Defendant for not giving evidence because she had already given her defence in her interview with the authorities and statutory declaration. Caplan QC highlighted that the law allows the prosecution to make adverse comment where a Defendant chose to remain silent and invited the Court to draw the inference that she had no answer to the prosecution's case against her.

One of the First Defendant's explanation for the large amounts of cash she had was that 5 million Brunei dollar was received from a Malaysian national for assisting with a confidential agreement between 2010 and 2017. According to the defence, her explanation has not been contradicted as the Malaysian national has not given evidence. In the absence of such evidence, Farrell QC urged the Court to conclude that the First Defendant's explanation should therefore be believed.

The Prosecution submitted that this is incorrect because the explanation was not given by sworn evidence in Court. Further, the First Defendant has the burden of proving this explanation because she wishes to rely on it. The Prosecution also reiterated the evidence adduced which have in fact disproved the First Defendant's explanations including the fact that the 149 pieces of 10 thousand Brunei Dollar notes dispensed by Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) to the First Defendant when she made withdrawals from the Official Receiver's accounts under her control were traced as being deposited into her and/or her joint bank account with the Second Defendant or used to purchase new cars or exchanged for smaller denominations.

The First Defendant's defence is also that the money withdrawn were placed in a fixed deposit account. The Prosecution submitted that there was no reason for her open such accounts. Even if there was a reason for her to do so, she was running a high risk by withdrawing large sums of money from one Bank and taking the cash to a different Bank in order to open a fixed deposit account. In any case, she has not provided any such details of the allegedly opened fixed deposit accounts and the prosecution adduced evidence from local banks that those accounts never existed.

Farrell QC suggested that the prosecution's process of proving the non-existence of such accounts at the Banks was flawed. There was no evidence produced from HSBC and Citibank regarding the existence or otherwise of a fixed deposit account. He further suggested that the evidence from bankers who confirmed that there were no fixed deposit accounts did not satisfy the requirement under the law for producing bankers' records.

Caplan QC replied that the statements of the bankers were not for producing such records and thus, is not limited to the requirements set out by the law. The witnesses were referring to checks or enquiries that had been made as to whether these accounts existed. The enquiries were checks against existing or past account holders.

In respect of the Second Defendant, it was submitted that the prosecution has not proven the case against him because there is no evidence to prove that he either knew or had reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that his wife was dishonestly misappropriating monies from the Official Receiver's accounts over a period of 14 years.

The Prosecution's position is that the Second Defendant must have known that his wife's story of being given 5 Million Brunei Dollar is untrue. As an intelligent person and as a criminal judge, he must have been aware that their standard of living was way above their emoluments. Without a credible explanation from the First Defendant as to the sources of the cash, he must have appreciated that the only logical source of such huge amounts was the OR accounts under her control.

If the Court is not satisfied that the Second Defendant knew he was dealing with the proceeds of his wife's criminal breach of trust then he, at the very least, had reasonable grounds to believe or suspect it. There were a number of factors giving rise to such grounds from the perspective of a reasonable man, for example the amount of cash involved, the complete absence of documentary evidence demonstrating a lawful source, the failure of the Second Defendant to ask his wife any questions at all about the cash deposited into their joint accounts and the large amounts of cash they were spending.

Having heard the submissions of both parties, Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson will deliver the Court's judgment on the 15th January at 9:30 in the morning. Deputy Public Prosecutors Hjh Suhana Hj Sudin, Hjh Suriana Hj Radin, Dk Didi-Nuraza Pg Hj Abdul Latiff and Muhammad Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman also appeared for the Public Prosecutor. Meanwhile, Sheikh Noordin Sheikh Mohammad also appeared for the defendants.

Source: Radio Television Brunei

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