Imam jailed for forgeries

Fadley Faisal

An Imam initially denied fraud charges against him had a change of heart and was sentenced to three years’ jail by the Intermediate Court last Monday.

At the end of Deputy Public Prosecutor Dayangku Didi-Nuraza binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Latiff’s case, Ahmeddani bin Haji Abdul Rahman hired defence counsel Rozaiman Abdul Rahman and changed his pleas to guilty towards 10 charges of falsifying the mosque’s bank account entries. He was acting in his capacity as Head of Imam of Muhammad Jamalul Alam Mosque, Kuala Belait and using forged documents which are purportedly genuine statement of accounts of the bank holding the mosque’s money.

Intermediate Court Judge Radin Safiee bin Radin Mas Basiuni heard the prosecution unravel how the defendant had misled the authorities.

As Head of Imam, the defendant’s responsibilities include preparing the monthly financial statement of accounts of the mosque before forwarding it to the Head of Belait District Mosque Affairs to be signed. Those statements are attached together with copies of purchase receipts and bank statement of accounts. He was also responsible for counting the donation monies from the donation box of the mosque on a weekly basis (every Friday) from the public and also depositing the donations into the mosque’s bank account.

The mosque’s monthly financial statement of accounts are to be submitted to the defendant’s superior’s for verification in the early week of every month. The defendant had been preparing the monthly financial statement of accounts since 2000 when he was appointed as Bilal.

It was on August 11, 2010 when the CID Police lodged a report of criminal breach of trust against the defendant pursuant to a memorandum dated July 19, 2010 from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Police investigations revealed that the defendant had created fictitious entries in the monthly financial statement of the mosque in August 2007 stating the current balance of the mosque’s bank account was BND80,782.92 and the new balance of the mosque’s bank account was BND81,913.47.

This was followed in September 2007 stating the current balance was BND81,913.47 and the new balance is BND83,526.02, in November 2007 stating the current balance was BND84,208.42 and the new balance was BND85,653.17, in January 2008 stating the current balance was BND87,774.82 and the new balance was BND87,840.72, in March 2008 stating the current balance was BND88,823.57 and the new balance was BND89,295.94.

These figures, the prosecution stated, was to show that the donation money from the mosque’s donation box had been deposited every Friday of the month into the bank account of the mosque.

However, investigations revealed that the donation monies were never deposited into the mosque’s bank account and the entries were falsified. No record showed how much money had been collected in the donation box.

The defendant admitted that he falsified these entries to mislead his superiors.

The prosecution further revealed that investigations were not able to determine for what purpose the donation monies which were not deposited into the mosque’s bank account was used for.

No documentations were found to support the purchases. For the offences of using forged documents, it was revealed that the defendant instructed the bank to change the mailing address for the delivery of bank statements for the mosque’s account from the mosque’s address to a post office box in Kuala Belait so that the bank statements would not reach his superiors.

It was also revealed that the defendant had prepared and forged bank statements for the account as if it was genuine, and that the defendant had fraudulently used the forged bank statement for the account in August and November 2006, August and November 2007 and March 2008. The defendant admitted that he had forged the documents by using a computer at the mosque.

These documents were submitted by the defendant to his superior to support the contents of the mosque’s financial statement of accounts which he had prepared.