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The former daughter-in-law of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has described him as the richest person in Malaysia and possibly in Southeast Asia.

NONE Shahnaz Abdul Majid (right) , 49, was testifying over the assets of her former husband Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court today.

Her lawyer Rafie Mohd Shafie produced a copy of an article from PKR organ Suara Keadilan to back the claim.

However, Syariah High Court judge Mohamad Abdullah wanted her to focus her testimony on her former husband's wealth. 

Shahnaz said Mahmud has 111 accounts worldwide with deposits worth an estimated RM700 million, and that he owns buildings and properties in Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and worldwide.

The whole of her testimony focused on Mahmud’s banking accounts overseas.

“He has personal accounts in Canada, the US, the Caribbean, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Switzerland," she said.

“My claim of RM100 million in mutaah (gift) is small as he is worth in excess of RM1 billion. The RM100 million can be said to be worth 10 sen to him.

For example, she said, Mahmud holds two personal accounts in Edmond de Rothschild in Luxembourg with deposits of US$25 million. He has two accounts in the same bank in Switzerland with deposits of US$31 million.

NONE Two HSBC accounts in Jersey have deposits of US$34 million, while an HSBC account in Hong Kong holds deposits of US$9.6 million in Mahmud's (left) name, she said.

All these accounts have a combined value of US$100 million.

Accounts in Bahamas, Monaco and Switzerland

Shahnaz said Mahmud has five bank accounts at the Pictet and Cie bank in Bahamas, the Caribbean, with deposits of US$18 million, and another account at the Safra bank in Bahamas with deposits of US$2 million.

Eight personal accounts are under her husband’s name at the Safra Bank in Monaco with deposits amounting to US$38.3 million.

“Besides this, he also has seven bank accounts under the Union Bank Switzerland with deposits of US$27 million, and another account under HSBC Bank in Jersey which he may have withdrawn,” she said.

These add up to deposits of up to US$159 million or an equivalent to RM588.67 million.

Rafie: How do you know these are the defendant’s (Mahmud) accounts?

Shahnaz: He was my husband for 19 years, so I know it.

Rafie: Has the defendant told you?

Shahnaz: There was an instance that we wanted to purchase a new car, he told me he will bring in the money from overseas. 

Rafie: Why did he park the money overseas?

Shahnaz: No, he did not tell me the reason.

Luxury cars at home and abroad

The court was told that Mahmud is a high-status individual who is worth in excess of RM1 billion.

His assets are in the form of cash, shares, companies which he owns, buildings and properties in Sarawak and overseas, all of which are registered under his name.

“My (ex-)husband also has a 200ha piece of land in Sarawak, luxury cars in Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur and abroad. He also has shares in Bursa Malaysia and overseas shares.

“There are also properties which are held under his name, and companies where he owns half of the shares. He holds 112 directorships in companies and has shareholdings in 50 companies. Unlike others, he usually travels in private jets."

Describing Mahmud as coming from an extremely wealthy family, Shahnaz said her husband would also reside and stay in five- or six- star hotels when abroad and still holds the title of ‘Datuk Seri’.

“My former father-in-law has been the Sarawak chief  minister since 1981 and the amount of wealth that the family possesses is luar biasa (extravagant). They have the cash to go anywhere and at any time they like, unlike some people,” she said.

“Hence, I am certain that my former husband can make the payment of RM100 million as this is not UK pound sterling or US dollars.”

Swiss bank CeO summoned

Rafie then produced the Suara Keadilan article which depicts Taib as the richest person in Malaysia and possibly the region.

However, Mahmud’s lawyer, Saadiah Din, objected on the basis that the article does not mention the name of the author.

NONE “I will call the author as a witness to testify. We have also issued subpoenae to Swiss Bank chief executive officers to testify,” Rafie said. 

After revealing the overseas accounts, Rafie asked for an adjournment as in the next session the witness will disclose Mahmud’s accounts in local banks and also the shares that he has.

Justice Mohamad then fixed Oct 24, Nov 26, 28, and Dec 11 for hearing.

Mahmud has been absent from the proceedings since last month.