The trial against a judiciary couple was ordered to commence today, with High Court Justice Gareth John Lugar-Mawson rejecting the defence’s application to have the proceedings stayed.
Simon Farrell, Queen’s Counsel (QC), representing 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, made an application for the stay of the current criminal proceedings, citing an abuse of process on the grounds that the law on the criminal breach of trust had been amended in October 2018, giving the prosecution an unfair advantage in the proceedings against the defendants.
In response, Jonathan Caplan, QC for the prosecution dismissed this allegation by submitting that they were not seeking to take advantage of the change in the law, because the amendments were only meant to apply to offences committed after the change took effect on October 2018.
Ramzidah, an Official Receiver of the Supreme Court, and Haji Nabil Daraina, a Senior Magistrate of the Magistrate’s Court, are facing 40 charges for offences of criminal breach of trust by a public servant under Section 409 of the Penal Code, Chapter 22; money laundering under Section 3 of the Criminal Asset Recovery Order 2012; and possession of unexplained property under Section 12 (1) (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 131.
The defence further contended that the prosecution had failed to properly investigate the case and failed to obtain statements from debtors, creditors and other important witnesses.
However, it was highlighted by Caplan that the prosecution is only required by law to prove the misappropriation of property by Ramzidah, which she allegedly converted for her own use.
The prosecution’s case is that she withdrew BND15.75 million from 255 Judgment Debtors’ Official Receiver’s accounts held at a local bank, with no legitimate reason for making such cash withdrawals.
Large amounts were then allegedly paid into the defendants’ joint accounts and/or used to purchase luxury items such as cars and handbags, and to live a lifestyle which was beyond their means on their judiciary salaries and other assets available to them.
The charges also include depositing money into the joint accounts and for the purchasing of vehicles using BND10,000 denomination notes for payments, which are alleged to have been obtained from the withdrawals made by Ramzidah from the bank.
It was further alleged by Farrell that the defendants were hindered in their preparation for trial by a further raid conducted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in April this year, which led to the seizing of confidential notes.
According to the prosecution, the raid was an operational matter, and it is the duty of an investigative agency to probe suspected attempts to pervert the course of justice.
Nevertheless, the prosecution did not receive any materials from the raid, and the investigations pertaining to the raid have been concluded.
Justice Lugar-Mawson dismissed the defendants’ application and disagreed with their submissions, and ruled that the amendments to the Penal Code do not apply retrospectively, and the maximum penalty of 10 years as they were at the time of the offences were committed shall apply. The trial continues today, for the prosecution to open its case.
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 also appeared for the Public Prosecutor.
Defence counsels Sheikh Noordin bin Sheikh Mohammad and Farrell represented the defendants.