Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Filthy rich? I was framed, Taib's son tells court

2:00PM Jun 3, 2014

By Ahmad Fadli KC

Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud's son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib testified in court today that his wealth has been hugely exaggerated through documents forged by a Canadian private investigator.

Testifying in a divorce case, Mahmud Abu Bekir shot down allegations that he had billions of dollars worth of assets.

Abu Bekir was answering questions from lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court today.

His former wife Shahnaz Abdul Majid is demanding a RM100 million mutaah (gift) in their matrimonial dispute case.

"Datuk Seri had assets of billions of dollars?” Zainul Rijal asked Abdu Bekir.

"That is a lie. Because this is the work of a criminal from Canada. His name is Cullen Johnson.

"He was an ex-cop from Toronto. After he came out of the police, he was an investigator," Abu Bekir answered.

Abu Bekir alleged that Cullen was not a credible investigator.

"I’ve sent investigators to the United States and found that the plaintiff had obtained the services of Mr Cullen Johnson in 2012," he said.

"Since 2009, he has been known to be involved in forgery and as a designer of fake documents.”

The case was presided over by Judge Muhamad Abdul Karim Wahab.

‘She tried to scratch me’

Abu Bekir also accused Shahnaz of being a crude and jealous wife, although he had provided a house and several cars for her over the nearly 20 years that they were officially married from 1992 to 2011.

They have a son together but Abu Bekir said they had already been living separately since 1997 after she attempted to scratch him or attacked him during a fight.

Abu Bekir said he took a loan to buy Shahnaz a RM2 million house and also acquired three vehicles for her use - a Mercedes S Class, A BMW X5 and 4-WD Cherokee Jeep, altogether worth another RM2 million.

Shahnaz had however claimed in her contempt case against Abu Bekir that he had neglected their 21-year old son. Abu Bekir has refuted the claims.

Shahnaz also previously claimed that she didn't know that her ex-hubby had wed Australian Louise Aida Hiley in 1999 and that she had stopped receiving alimony from Abu Bekir after August 2011.

Press statement issued

Abu Bekir later issued a press statement through GRA Communications Sdn Bhd which repeated what he said in court today. Mahmud challenged his wife and her legal team to “produce solid evidence of these bank accounts” and to submit real testimonies from bank managers of these international banks to the court.

“My ex-wife’s claims from crooked investigators should be examined by this court with a sharp eye as it is not credible and based on lies, distortions and misrepresentations. I am absolutely certain and confident that such accounts do not exist,” Abu Bekir was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added that his ex-wife was now seeking credibility by calling on local banks to testify on his wealth through the revelation of his Malaysian banking accounts.

Citing a Canadian broadcaster CBC News report, Abu Bekir alleged that Cullen and his wife Elaine White, a former forensic accountant, had been wanted by Canadian authorities since 2009 on charges of fraud. They fled to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2010 before their trial.

This was not the first time the court had heard that Abu Bekir was a billionaire.

In February, accountant Andrew Heng, appointed by Shahnaz (right), had estimated that Abu Bekir was worth RM1.334 billion to RM1.395 billion.

Heng said that Abu Bekir had shareholdings in 49 companies said to be worth RM220 million and palm oil-based companies, besides inherited wealth from his mother. Heng claimed that Mahmud also owned a slate of luxury cars  including a Bugatti, Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi and Bentley.

Abu Bekir’s father Abdul Taib Mahmud was the chief minister of Sarawak for 33 years before being appointed the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak in March.

Dubbed by some as one of the richest men in South-East Asia, Taib also had several reports lodged against him to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during his long reign as chief minister.

Police report against banks

Later, Abu Bekir told reporters that he would make a police report against banks who revealed his account details as this went against  the Banking and Financial Information Act. Such information can only be disclosed by Bank Negara in criminal cases, he added.

He said that he was worried that the court case had exposed his son, now studying in the UK, to a kidnapping and ransom risk.

The Syariah Court case will resume on June 24 and in September.
~ Malaysiakini

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