Seven ACB officers testify in judiciary couple trial

Fadley Faisal

Seven investigating officers from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) were called to testify in the prosecution’s 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 at the High Court yesterday.

The witnesses called in were involved in the first phase of an operation called ‘Ops RR’, which took place on January 8, 2018.

A witness testified that he led the search into Haji Nabil Daraina’s office, during which seizures on digital devices, documents and files were made in his presence.

A driver witness statement was also found for an accident in London, while driving a car in December 2015.

At the same time, a search was conducted on Ramzidah’s office by a separate team. An officer involved in the search testified that his task was to look for documents relevant to their investigations. When searching the office table, he found that the drawers were locked. When Ramzidah was asked where the keys were, she informed him that it was lost a long time ago.

A bag with a small padlock was found near the sofa area of the office. According to Ramzidah, the key to the padlock was lost. An ACB officer had to force open the lock, and several bankruptcy files were found inside the bag.

The filing room of the Official Receiver’s Chambers was searched for the remaining files dealt by Ramzidah.

Once the search at the offices were completed, the ACB officers continued the search at the defendants’ house in Kampong Kiarong. Both defendants were present during the search and items were seized for investigations.

Digital devices and documents related to the purchases of cars, travel flights and shopping expenses at Harrods in the United Kingdom for almost GBP41,000, and Selfridges in the United Kingdom for about GBP9,000, were seized.

Receipts for the purchase of watches worth BND32,400 and BND2,380 were also found.

The search into the attic on the second floor of the house led to the discovery of shelves of cabinets storing luxury handbags, shoes and other accessories.

The room and items were sealed for investigations.

The defendants’ cars were to be seized, but Haji Nabil Daraina requested to keep two of their cars for commuting to work. At the house, the luxury cars were parked in an air-conditioned garage referred to as ‘the pavillion’. On that day, eight cars were marked to be seized.

Subsequent to the search in Kampong Kiarong, an attempt was made to execute a search warrant on the house of Ramzidah’s parents. The ACB officers knocked repeatedly on the doors and windows of the house, but no one responded. The operation was then stood down.

On the afternoon of January 9, 2018, seven other cars belonging to the defendants were identified to be seized from the house of Ramzidah’s parents.

On January 10, 2018, the ACB officers returned to Ramzidah’s office to break open the locked drawers, and found large sums of cash and bank account books. This was witnessed by officers of the court.

On January 12, 2018, a search on Ramzidah’s bedroom in her parents’ house was executed, and items were seized for investigations. The second phase of ‘Ops RR’ was executed on March 8, 2018, for a further search of the defendants’ house.

When the investigators arrived at the house, the defendants refused to open the gate and were reluctant to follow instructions to cooperate with the investigations.

During cross-examination of a witness, Simon Farell, QC questioned why another search had to be conducted when one had been conducted earlier.

The witness answered that due to the sheer volume of items believed to be the profits of a crime, the ACB officers were not yet instructed to seize them during the initial search.

The defence counsel suggested that the defendants had not admitted the ACB officers because they were concerned as to whether the ACB had powers to conduct a further search, and they needed to seek legal advice.

A defence counsel who was representing the defendants at the time had to intervene, and the ACB officers were eventually allowed to enter the house.

A thorough search and seizure of the house was conducted.

The search team seized over 300 items consisting of luxury brand items such as bags and watches.

The cars earmarked to be seized were taken away from the defendants’ possession in March 2018.

On March 8, 2018, six cars were seized from the defendants’ house, leaving them with one car for their daily use. A further five cars were seized from the house of Ramzidah’s parents, on the same day.

Subsequently, luxury car A and luxury car B were seized from luxury car dealer A’s Service Area, while luxury car C was seized from luxury car dealer B.

On March 19, 2018, the ACB officers seized another luxury car belonging to Haji Nabil Daraina, which was parked at luxury hotel A’s basement car park. The key to the car was given to the ACB by the defendants’ defence counsel at the time.

 A car left for the defendants’ daily use was also seized on March 20, 2018.

As part of investigations, the ACB served a statutory declaration to the defendants for them to declare their assets and liabilities and income for the period of first employment, until the document was completed and submitted to the investigators.

The completed documents were submitted on May 21, 2018.

An officer assigned as a photographer of this case testified in court.

A number of photographs recording the search and seizures in January 2018 were produced in court.

Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson is considering whether he should physically view the cars and handbags, or rely on the photographs.

The trial was adjourned 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.