The High Court yesterday ordered for the confiscation of cash tied to two cases under the Criminal Asset Recovery Order, 2012.
The Public Prosecutor had applied to the High Court for a confiscation order under Section 60(1) of the Criminal Asset Recovery Order, 2012 (CARO) in respect of a substantial amount of cash, which was identified as tainted property in two separate cases.
Under CARO, ‘tainted property’ includes property obtained as a result of, or in connection with the commission of an offence, if it was acquired by the person before, during or within a reasonable time after the period of the commission of the offence of which the person is about to be charged, charged or convicted.
In the first case, five nationals from the People’s Republic of China entered Brunei Darussalam in June 2016, and subsequently used counterfeit ATM cards and the accompanying PIN to gain access to the programme held within the ATM.
Once they gained access, they withdrew cash ranging from BND100 to BND1,700. In total, the defendants withdrew over BND20,000 from various foreign accounts.
After withdrawing the money, three of the defendants went to money-changers to convert the stolen cash from the unauthorised withdrawals into US dollars.
All five of them were arrested at the Brunei International Airport.
The police recovered all the converted cash on them amounting to BND19,976 and USD29,268.
The five defendants were charged for money laundering and theft. Additionally, they were charged for accessing with the intent to commit an offence under the Computer Misuse Act, Chapter 194.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hajah Suriana binti Haji Radin applied for the cash found on the defendants to be confiscated, as it is tainted property.
In the second case, an Indonesian national was convicted in the Magistrate’s Court of possessing unexcisable goods – cigarettes and alcoholic beverages – under the Excise Order 2006, and three offences of money laundering under CARO, in October 2017.
During the raid, Customs officials also found BND11,821 in a car parked at the house, believed to be the proceeds from the sale of contraband goods, identified as tainted property.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Dayangku Didi-Nuraza binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Latiff and Muhammad Qamarul Affyian bin Abdul Rahman applied for the cash found in the car to be confiscated.
Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong heard both applications from the Public Prosecutor.
During the hearing, the defendants did not contest the forfeiture applications on the seized cash.
The High Court declared the seized cash as tainted property and ordered for it to be forfeited to the Government of Brunei Darussalam, being a Conviction-based Forfeiture Order under Section 68 (1) of CARO, and transferred to the Criminal Assets Confiscation Fund, which is established under CARO.