A local man was sentenced to four years’ jail by the Intermediate Court yesterday after he failed to prove his innocence in a trial on a charge of aiding his friend in the use of a counterfeit BND50 note.
Mohammad Rizal bin Haji Md Yazid aided Md Noorhafiez bin Mohammad in using a counterfeit BND50 note as genuine on August 3, 2018.
Judge Pengiran Hajah Norismayanti binti Pengiran Haji Ismail found that the prosecution proved the case against the defendant beyond the court’s reasonable doubt.
The defendant entered a plea of not guilty when he was charged in June 2019.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Dayangku Didi-Nuraza binti Pengiran Abdul Latiff called five witnesses including Md Noorhafiez who earlier pleaded guilty to using the counterfeit note.
The prosecution established that Md Noorhafiez was at the defendant’s rented house sometime around August 3, 2018 and he was shown an envelope containing several pieces of BND50 notes by the defendant. Upon checking the notes, Md Noorhafiez realised that they were counterfeit because the notes were made of paper. The defendant also told him the notes were counterfeit.
Md Noorhafiez asked for BND50 from the defendant to buy rice and was given a counterfeit note. He went to a nasi katok stall in Lambak Kanan where he used the counterfeit BND50 note to pay for two packets of nasi katok.
He received a balance of BND40 from the worker at the stall but left the remaining BND8 because the stall did not have smaller notes.
Md Noorhafiez returned to the defendant’s house and subsequently shared the rice and BND40 with the defendant.
The worker at the stall eventually realised that the BND50 he received from Md Noorhafiez was counterfeit and lodged a police report.
Investigations by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department at the Royal Brunei Police Force led to the arrest of the defendant and Md Noorhafiez.
During the trial, the prosecution also called an officer from the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) who testified and confirmed that the BND50 used by Md Noorhafiez was a counterfeit. In his defence, the defendant completely denied the offence. He alleged that he never gave the counterfeit note to Md Noorhafiez. According to him, he warned Md Noorhafiez against using it. He told the Court that at the time of the crime, he was in Temburong with his family but failed to call any witnesses to confirm this.
The defendant testified that he received the counterfeit notes from a business transaction. He suspected that the notes were counterfeit but despite his suspicion, proceeded to go to Lambak Kanan to purchase cigarettes for BND2. He received BND48 in return. The court saw this as an indication that the genuity of the notes was not a concern to the defendant. In considering both the defence and prosecution’s case, the judge concluded that there were too many inconsistencies between the defendant’s oral testimony and earlier statements to the police. She did not find him a credible witness and concluded that his defence is a mere concoction.
The court was satisfied that the prosecution established its case beyond reasonable doubt and convicted the defendant. The DPP submitted that the defendant has been convicted of an extremely serious offence. Such offences relating to counterfeit notes have always attracted severe sentences because they strike at the integrity of the financial system. The prosecution urged the court to impose a substantial custodial sentence.
In delivering her sentence, the judge noted that “the defendant played a crucial role as an abettor. He knowingly came into possession of the counterfeit money and chose not to report to the authorities. This in turn aided Md Noorhafiez to commit an offence.”