Three witnesses testify in judiciary couple’s case

Fadley Faisal

Prosecutors called three witnesses 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 in the High Court yesterday.

First, Judicial Commissioner Pengiran Datin Paduka Hajah Rostaina binti Pengiran Haji Duraman, who was previously a Chief Registrar appointed in 2008, took to the witness stand.

Her evidence spoke of how as a Chief Registrar, she held concurrent roles such as the Official Receiver, Probate Officer and Registrar of Marriage. In giving evidence, she gave accounts of the process and workflow of the Bankruptcy Office under her tenure as an Official Receiver between 2008 and 2018.

At the time, she instructed the first defendant to be in-charge of the Bankruptcy Office in which she was responsible to supervise and assign work to the staff in the office.

She testified that she had never given any directions for the opening of fixed deposit accounts in relation to the monies held in the Official Receiver’s accounts. Pursuant to the investigations conducted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), she directed her Chambers to enquire to the local banks of the existence of such accounts.

She received confirmation from Bank C and Bank E that no fixed deposit accounts were held under the first defendant’s name.

In cross-examination, Simon Farrell QC put forward the argument that Deputy Official Receivers (DORs) are given a measure of discretion on how to deal with their bankruptcy cases. There have been no written guidelines or a system with regards to the setting up of fixed deposit accounts.

The witness informed the Court that she only knew of the exact details of the fixed deposit accounts after receiving replies from the banks. Prior to that, her knowledge was limited to fixed deposit accounts inherited by the DORs under her from previous DORs.

The second witness, Pengiran Hajah Norismayanti binti Pengiran Haji Ismail, who was a Senior Registrar of the Supreme Court had been conferred the powers of a Deputy Official Receiver (DOR) since 2003.

She testified in detail the bankruptcy proceedings, practices and procedures which have been in place since she became a DOR. She had also told the court that she learned from old bankruptcy files and cases, as well as from standards practised by her seniors that dividend payments are made by way of cheque. It is very rare for payments to be made in cash, though she did recall one instance when she did make a cash withdrawal to pay creditors who were foreigners and had insufficient funds to travel home.

In declaring dividend in that case, time was of the essence and she had kept the receipt of the payments in the bankruptcy file, signed and dated by the creditors concerned.

She agreed with Farrell in cross-examination that Ramzidah never kept the Fixed Deposit Accounts a secret from her colleagues and she never thought there was anything unusual about Ramzidah’s dealing with the Fixed Deposit Accounts, and had trusted Ramzidah all along in her capacity as DOR.

The third witness called by the prosecution was Yusrina Rosli, an Accounts Officer with the Bankruptcy Office at the Supreme Court, who gave evidence on processes related to bankruptcy matters including proof of debts.

Hajah Hazarena, the first prosecution witness, was recalled briefly by Farrell yesterday to confirm that she had never dealt with FDAs.

The trial was adjourned by Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson to continue today.

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

Simon Farrell QC and Sheikh Noordin bin Sheikh Mohammad represented the defendants.