Case against judiciary couple continues

Fadley Faisal

The prosecution continued their case 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.

A Deputy Superintendent of Police from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) gave evidence regarding a statement recorded from Ramzidah on July 22, 2018, a day after her arrest.

In the statement, Ramzidah described the process which takes place after a person is declared bankrupt. She admitted to making withdrawals from the Official Receiver’s (OR) account to pay creditors or to open a fixed deposit account (FDA).

She also said that payments to creditors could be made using cash, if the creditors wanted to avoid bank charges. Otherwise, payments would be made by cheque.

Ramzidah was questioned on the source of cash amounting to BND207,800 that was used to purchase a luxury sports car by Haji Nabil Daraina. She had given the money to pay for the car from her savings, which were derived from her late brother’s investment returns and cash gifts from a Malaysian woman.

According to Ramzidah, the cash gifts were from being a witness to the signing of extremely confidential agreements which she was not allowed to divulge.

She claimed that the agreements were made around 2010 until 2017, during which she was given a total of about BND5 million. No other person witnessed the signings because of the sensitivity of those agreements.

Ramzidah said that she had once informed Haji Nabil Daraina as to the source of the cash, and he never asked again, since he knew that she could not reveal anything else.

Jonathan Caplan, QC then read out the statements recorded from Ramzidah by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in March 2018, in which she also disclosed a similar account of the source of the BND5 million. She said that she had received the cash in envelopes through the Malaysian woman’s assistants.

The last time she received the cash gift was either in October or November 2017, where the Malaysian woman’s assistants met her in a car in a parking lot in the Kiarong area.

She claimed to have recognised the assistants, saying that they usually wore blue-coloured clothing and brought with them a blue-coloured folder containing documents signed by the Malaysian woman, along with monies in an envelope.

Regarding her late brother, she informed the ACB officer that he had stayed in Bangkok for almost 16 years until he passed away in October 2015.

Her late brother had a business in Thailand, but Ramzidah testified that she did not know what business it was, and she never inquired. She claimed that her late brother used to give her a lot of cash as they were very close, and that at times he would buy her designer handbags.

She said that she had given her late brother BND50,000 to be invested in Thailand, but did not know where the money was invested. These alleged investments are not supported with any documents.

Caplan continued to read out the statement of Haji Nabil Daraina, recorded by the ACB officer on March 20, 2018. When he was suspended on January 9, 2018, he was acting in the post of Chief Magistrate.

He has four plots of land registered under his name, which were given by his father and late grandfather. He has also a Bank B Visa and Department Store Mastercard with a combined limit of BND20,000.

He also has an American Express and Visa with Bank C, with a combined limit of BND17,200.

Haji Nabil Daraina stated that the luxury car seized by the ACB was registered under his daughter’s name. It was her birthday gift that was paid for by Ramzidah and her family.

The defendants paid the balance from the sale of their daughter’s previous car.

A statement from Haji Nabil Daraina was also recorded by the RBPF on July 22, 2018, asserting he always assumed that the money given to him and for the purchase of the cars was derived from Ramzidah’s arrangements with the Malaysian woman, because she had told him this was so.

He said that he believed her and never had any reason to doubt what she told him.

Both the defendants also expressed their dissatisfaction of being arrested by the RBPF, saying that they could have simply attended quietly and properly, upon being instructed.

Ramzidah said that she had expected the authorities to be more discreet in their exercise of powers and discretion, seeing that they were Judicial Officers, although suspended.

A document examiner at the Department of Scientific Services (DSS) at the Ministry of Health testified in court as to the examination of signatures on the cash withdrawal slips of Bank A.

She found that they were naturally and fluently written, and had significant similarities in their basic design, writing fluency and line quality throughout the years from 2004 to 2017.

In her professional opinion, 1,258 questioned signatures were written by the same writer of the known specimen, who was Ramzidah.

Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson adjourned the trial to continue today.

Caplan and Deputy Public Prosecutors 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 Sheikh Mohammad represented the defendants.