Court hears evidence on cash withdrawals in judiciary couple’s case

Fadley Faisal

More instances of withdrawals were discussed in evidence yesterday at the High Court, in the trial against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Colonel (Rtd) Haji Abdul Rahman and Haji Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin.

Jonathan Caplan, QC read out to the court statements of 10 tellers employed by Bank A. It was revealed that the first cash withdrawal made by Ramzidah was on November 18, 2004, from an Official Receiver’s (OR) account under Ramzidah’s name, to the amount of BND11,000.

More evidence was heard of cash withdrawals made on various occasions between 2004 and 2017 from multiple OR accounts, by Ramzidah.

Two witnesses, who were the approvers for transactions in vast amounts of up to BND500,000, testified in court yesterday.

Both witnesses explained the cash withdrawals made by Ramzidah were approved because the accounts were under her name, and that she was the sole signatory for each of them.

Her identity was also verified from the identification card that she presented. One of them believed that the withdrawals were made in her official capacity as a Judge from the court, and that she had the approval to make withdrawals.

The prosecution also called two Bank A staff previously attached to the Bankruptcy Unit of the Collection and Recovery Department. One of them first met Ramzidah in 2005, as matters related to the OR’s accounts are under the purview of the Unit.

Sometime in 2006, Ramzidah asked for his phone number, and he recalled that not long after, she contacted him before coming to the main branch of Bank A to make withdrawals.

When she arrived, he would collect the documents for cash withdrawal from her, as she sat in the car. He then handed those documents to the teller, to be processed.

Initially, he would collect the cash from the counter and hand them over to Ramzidah, who waited in the car. This occurred several times, until he was told to stop doing so by his superior.

After that, Ramzidah collected the money herself from the counter.

When the witness asked Ramzidah about the withdrawn cash, she answered that it was to be placed into an account in a different bank.

The other witness who worked in the Bankruptcy Unit said that he came to know Ramzidah around 2011. He also gave a similar account of how Ramzidah would contact him before coming to the bank to make withdrawals.

He said that he would sometimes inform the tellers ahead of her arrival, so that she did not have to wait for a long time. There were also times when she would skip the queue, as she was seen as a priority customer.

When cross-examined by Farrell, the witness admitted that he and another colleague had been previously tasked to collect cash paid by judgement debtors from the court to the bank, to be deposited into the respective OR accounts.

He had carried out this responsibility from 2014 to August 2017, when he was dismissed by the bank.

When suggested by Farrell that he was dismissed because he had taken money from the cash collected from the court, he disagreed, and said in return that he was dismissed because of his negligence resulting in losing that cash.

One of the witnesses testified that the Legal and Compliance Unit of Bank A did enquire the Bankruptcy Unit as to why there were cash withdrawals from the OR’s accounts. However, as those accounts were under Ramzidah’s name and she was the signatory, she could not be barred from accessing the account.

However, no other Deputy Official Receivers have made such withdrawals from OR’s accounts.

The last witness called to the stand was an Assistant Manager at the Bankruptcy Unit of Bank A, who was aware of the withdrawals made by Ramzidah, based on the balances in the OR’s accounts.

She recalled that she had written several letters addressed to Ramzidah, to notify the amount accumulated in the OR accounts for dividends to be paid.

These letters also contained details of cash withdrawals made from those accounts. The prosecution exhibited a number of these letters, and the witness confirmed that annotations of ‘IN FD’ seen in those letters were not made by her.

She also referred to a letter that she received from Ramzidah on June 20, 2012, informing Bank A that the BND80,000 withdrawn from the specified account was placed in a fixed deposit account, though no information was given as to the account details.

Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson adjourned the hearing to resume on September 30.

Caplan and Deputy Public Prosecutors Hajah Suhana Haji Sudin, Hajah Suriana Haji Radin, Dayangku Didi-Nuraza Pengiran Haji Abdul Latiff and Muhammad Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman appeared for the Public Prosecutor.

Farrell and Sheikh Noordin Sheikh Mohammad represented the defendants.