More evidence presented in judiciary couple case

Fadley Faisal

The trial of 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 continued in the High Court yesterday.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officer who investigated the defendants’ alleged money laundering offences continued to present her evidence.

The investigating officer analysed telegraphic transfers (TT) made from the defendants’ joint bank account in Brunei to their bank accounts in the United Kingdom (UK). These transfers were usually made after substantial cash deposits were made into the defendants’ local bank account, which was approximately close to the withdrawals from Bank A’s Official Receiver (OR) accounts made by Ramzidah.

The total amount transferred from September 2011 till December 2017 to the UK was BND1,374,212.85.

Investigations into the defendants’ travel history showed that whenever TT transactions were made to the UK, they would travel there immediately after. For example, when a transfer was made on December 14, 2016, they left on the same day for the UK.

When a transfer was made on December 12, 2017, they travelled to the UK on December 18, 2017.

Simon Farrell, QC stressed that Ramzidah went to the UK alone without Haji Nabil Daraina on March 4, 2017, after a TT transaction had been made on March 1, 2017.

CCTV recordings at Bank B were also analysed. Ramzidah withdrew BND226,000 from OR accounts on May 24, 2017. Two days later at about 5.41pm, the defendants deposited a total of BND30,000 into their joint account.

On June 8, 2017, at about 11.26pm, they deposited BND30,000 through the Cash Deposit Machine (CDM), and about an hour later, at 12.35am, Haji Nabil Daraina deposited BND20,000.

A total of BND442,000 was withdrawn by Ramzidah on December 5, 2017. On December 8, 2017, the defendants deposited BND40,000 into their joint account at Bank B through the CDM, and again in the late hours of December 11, 2017, they deposited another BND100,000.

Aside from the cash deposits into the defendants’ local bank accounts, a substantial amount was also deposited into their children’s accounts in local banks. Between the years 2001 to 2010, a deposit of BND40,560.84 was made into Haji Nabil Daraina’s joint account at Bank C with his son. However, this increased significantly to BND118,991.90 between 2011 and 2017.

Farrell put forward the fact that the last deposit of BND21,600 on December 21, 2017, into the account was from Ramzidah’s mother, but this is unsupported by any documents or investigations.

Financial analysis to determine the defendants’ legitimate source of income discovered that there were no other incomes aside from their salary at the Judiciary Department and the monthly BND3,000 received from Haji Nabil Daraina’s father.

The Chief Special Investigator who analysed the car purchases made by the defendants by way of cash between 2008 and 2017 found that the defendants bought cars every year, totaling 19 cars.

She also noted a luxury car that was paid for in cash on three occasions, between July and November 2013, which the defendants purchased for their daughter at BND147,500.

The defendants’ lifestyles were also analysed. They travelled to the UK two or three times a year using business class, which is approximately BND6,000 on average per person.

Both the defendants also claimed high volumes of tax refund. The tax refund was applied to a shopping spree at Harrods London to the cost of approximately GBP64,000, and at Selfridges London to the cost of approximately GBP14,000.

These tax refunds were for a two-week visit to the UK between March 26 and April 9, 2016.

The defendants’ daughter rented two properties in the UK – one in Coventry and another in Knightsbridge. The rental payments were made either by Ramzidah or the daughter herself through cheque.

For the property in Coventry, GBP182,200 was paid for the period between September 2011 to September 2019, while GBP131,429 was paid for the property in Knightsbridge between August 2015 to April 2018.

Investigations were also conducted into the defendants’ cash payment to their Bank B credit card. Between 2011 to 2017, the cash payment made by Ramzidah for her credit card was BND274,450, while Haji Nabil Daraina paid BND183,501.

Farrell cross-examined the investigating officer. One of the sources declared by the defendants was their respective parents, but their parents were not interviewed or called in for investigations.

Ramzidah’s mother owns five rental properties and one school, but these facts were not included in the witness’s statement.

The witness answered that the mother is not the sole owner of the school, and even with that amount of property, it would be unrealistic for the property to generate millions of dollars.

The Assistant Director of ACB, who heads the Investigation and Task Force of ACB, testified in court regarding the searches conducted in the beginning of January 2018.

Asked by Farrell on the sources of information received by ACB which led to the investigations of the defendants, the witness informed that any such information are privileged information and the law does not allow for them to be disclosed.

A certified forensic examiner at IT Protective Security Services Sdn Bhd (ITPSS) was present in court, and testified that she had received from ACB a request for data acquisition on digital devices such as the Apple Macbook and Apple iMac.

Subsequent to the acquisition, a meeting was held between the witness and ACB officers. The ACB provided her with 10 keywords to narrow down her search including the word ‘fixed deposit’. She managed to identify a large number of documents, which were later narrowed down to 10 relevant documents and produced in court.

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

Jonathan Caplan, QC 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. Farrell and Sheikh Noordin Sheikh Mohammad represented the defendants.