Monday, May 26, 2014

Court overrules objection to bank account details


Hafiz Yatim 

The Syariah High Court overruled today an objection from lawyers representing Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud's eldest son to testimony from a senior bank officer that Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib had close to RM9 million in his fixed deposit and current accounts in 2012.

Lawyers Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Din argued that the evidence from CIMB assistant vice-president for the customer resolution unit P Magendran Pillai on details of Abu Bekir's accounts with the bank as it went against the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia).

"Furthermore, there is no evidence that he has obtained a company resolution that he is allowed to reveal such information," said Zainul Rijal.

Lawyer Akbardin Abdul Kader, who is appearing for Mahmud Abu Bekir's former wife Shahnaz Abdul Majid (left), told the court that Magendran was representing the bank and that he had been subpoenaed as a witness.

Akbardin said there was no need for the bank to make a resolution when it is within the scope of the job and responsibilities of the witness.

Another lawyer for Shahnaz, Rafie Mohd Shafie, also submitted that the court had previously ordered Mahmud Abu Bekir to reveal all his assets, but he did not do so.

With this, judge Mohamad Abdul Karim Wahab ruled that the court is satisfied with the line of questioning by Akbardin and that this is part of the job scope of Magendran to reveal.

"There is no need for a company resolution before such details are to be released. Furthermore, this evidence is subject to cross-examination.

"With this, the court rejects the objection and marks the document detailing Mahmud Abu Bekir's current accounts as an exhibit," Justice Mohamad Abul Karim ruled.

Magendran told the court that Abu Bekir had RM1.763 million on July 31, 2012 and RM3.221 million in his current account on Sept 30, 2012.

The senior CIMB officer was testifying in Shahnaz's RM100 million mutaah (gift) claim from Abu Bekir following their divorce in 2012.

More than RM5 million in fixed deposit

Earlier, a chartered accountant Andrew Heng had testified that Abu Bekir has assets worth between RM916 million to RM1.395 billion.

As Magendran also revealed details of Abu Bekir's  fixed deposits, Zainul Rijal (left) made similar objections to the evidence, but this was again over ruled by Justice Mohamad Abdul Karim.

Magendran told the court that the former Sarawak chief minister's son had more than RM5 million in fixed deposits with its the CIMB branch in Kuching, the state capital.

There are five fixed deposit accounts, the witness said, and that by Sept 15, 2012, the amount in the fixed deposit, including interest, has soared to RM5.031 million.

Upon cross-examination by Saadiah, Magendran who has been with the bank for 18 years, said he knows the provisions under Section 97 to 102 of Bafia, and he agreed  with the lawyer that he had not obtained Abu Bekir's permission to reveal the details of his accounts.

Not bound by Bafia as officer was subpoenaed

Magendran agrees that he is bound by Bafia. However, he was revealing the details in court today as a result of being subpoenaed by the court and said he had not violated any bank-to-client confidentiality under Bafia..

Judge Mohamad Abdul Karim stopped Saadiah from asking further saying the witness had been subpoenaed.

However, the judge recorded the objection from Abu Bekir's lawyers to further disclosure of details on the bank accounts.

Similar objections were made when Mursinah Manap, a customer service manager with Maybank, took the stand when she testified on Abu Bekir's American Express (Amex) charge card.

Mursinah told the court that Maybank was entrusted with the Amex charge card since 2005, and everyone from the credit department, even the bank clerk could access details of charge cards.

Replying to questions from Rafie, Mursinah said there was no limit put on the charge card and she herself verified Abu Bekir's credit card bills for the court's usage.

However, Justice Mohamad Abdul Karim did not accept the credit card bills from January to June 2012 to be tendered as evidence as there were discrepancies between the verified copies and those obtained from Shahnaz.

With this, the court adjourned hearing to June 3, during which Shahnaz is expected to close her case, with Abu Bekir possibly taking the stand after that.

Besides the RM100 million mutaah claim, Shahnaz is also claiming another RM300 million in joint matrimonial assets.
~ Malaysiakini

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