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Brunei
Sunday, June 26, 2022
26.3 C
Brunei
Sunday, June 26, 2022
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    Three more witnesses testify in judiciary couple’s case

    Fadley Faisal

    The prosecution continued its case against Ramzidah binti Pehin Datu Kesuma Diraja Colonel (Rtd) Haji Abdul Rahman (first defendant) and Haji Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin (second defendant) in the High Court yesterday by calling three more witnesses.

    The first witness, Lim Siew Yen, a retired Judicial Officer, was a former Intermediate Court Judge who had also previously carried out duties as a Deputy Official Receiver (DOR).

    She gave evidence on procedures relating to the practices dealing with Official Receivers’ accounts during her time, particularly how Official Receivers’ (OR) accounts are usually opened. In the cases where the debtor is a public servant, the OR’s account will be opened in a savings account at the bank where the debtor’s monthly salary is paid to.

    For the cases where the debtor is not a public servant or does not receive a fixed monthly salary at a bank, they would make an initial cash payment to which a receipt would be issued, which would then be used to open the Official Receiver’s account as the first deposit.

    She also elaborated on how a dividend is declared, including testifying that while she was still working as a DOR, she would never pay dividends to creditors in cash as it was burdensome, and that she would make payments by cheque, which the creditors would collect from her personally.

    She gave further evidence on how opening an OR fixed deposit account (FDA) was not common practice, but that there were certain situations where opening an FDA was done. For example, in one case, where a debtor failed to pay regularly into the OR account, the account became dormant and dormant fees were incurred. To avoid further fees, the savings account is closed and the closing balance is used to open an FDA.

    She further stated that it was possible for this process to be arranged via a written request to the bank, and that such instructions would always be filed with the documentation in the bankruptcy file.

    She also stated that opening an FDA was also done in cases where large sums had been accumulated, but not enough to declare a sizable dividend.

    In his cross-examination of the first witness, Simon Farrell, QC put forward that as there were no internal written rules or guidelines when dealing with bankruptcy cases, DORs had the discretion as to how to deal with their bankruptcy cases, including the opening of FDAs. He also asserted that different DORs would often operate differently and deal with the cases in their own way.

    The prosecution then called Shahrezawati binti Ahmad, an officer from the State Judiciary Department who heads the IT, Finance and Revenue Section, to give evidence regarding the JCMS.

    She testified that in the late afternoon of January 8, 2019, she received instructions to deactivate the defendants’ JCMS account which she did, and that it was only on the following day that she was informed of the investigations by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the defendants.

    As part of her evidence, she introduced documents which she had printed off from the JCMS, which are letters from Bank A, stating the current balance in the relevant OR bank account, notwithstanding the withdrawals made on several dates. A document was shown in court on this.

    The third witness, Shahrun bin Ibrahim, an Assistant Financial Officer with the State Judiciary Department, gave evidence on receiving cash payments from debtors.

    He testified he had previously come across letters from Bank A, stating that there were cash withdrawals made from OR accounts.

    He further elaborated that he had not seen any other DOR making cash withdrawals from OR accounts under their control, apart from those under the first defendant’s supervision. The witness also produced a cash deposit slip to the amount of BND68,000, which he had deposited into an account in Bank A, under the first defendant’s name upon her instructions.

    In cross-examination, Farrell argued that the account was in fact an OR’s account and not her personal account.

    In reply, the witness said he did not have such knowledge. However, he confirmed that a normal day’s scenario would be a debtor bringing large amounts of cash for the payment of BND3,000 to BND4,000 over the counter, which he would first keep in his safe box, only to hand it over later, when the counter closes at 3.45pm, to the DOR-in-charge.

    The witness also agreed with Farrell that while the DORs sometimes bring the cash home for safekeeping, there have been occasions when these physical cash from payments would be exchanged with personal cash of their own.

    The prosecution’s fourth witness of the day was present in court; however, prior to testifying, Farrell informed the court that the second defendant was unwell and applied for the hearing to be adjourned for the day.

    Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson granted the application and ordered the hearing to resume on September 24.

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