Mutaah claim grossly exaggerated, Mahmud says

Statements purporting to show he had 111 bank accounts worldwide were the work of convicted forgers, Shariah court told. Sarawakian entrepreneur Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib expressed regret that his divorce maintenance hearing had evolved into an international politically motivated conspiracy against him and his family, and in particular his father Governor of Sarawak Abdul Taib Mahmud.


“What was supposed to be a private matter was blown up into an international attack and slander to change the political landscape of Sarawak,” he told the Syariah High Court here on Monday. “To add spice, my wealth was grossly exaggerated and misrepresented.”

He claimed that among those involved in the conspiracy was British political activist Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who he said, had picked up every conceivable piece of gossip and political scandal to undermine his reputation and credibility.

“It saddens me that my divorce, which is painful enough for all, should have been hijacked by politicians and activists, and used to disseminate falsehoods under the cover of this respected court,” he lamented.

The attacks have even continued into the Swiss Parliament, he claims, with its MPs demanding that Swiss banks reveal details of his accounts following Shahnaz’s revelation of 111 purported offshore bank accounts.

Shahnaz had claimed that he had a string of offshore bank accounts in Canada, the US, the Caribbean, France, Luxembourg, Monaco, Hong Kong and Switzerland, he said. She also testified that her former husband had properties both locally and abroad.

“This court has not been shown any evidence or proof that these accounts exist,” he noted. “Neither have these offshore banks been called in to testify its existence.”

“These bank accounts are forgeries,” he insisted. “They are not real.”

He claimed that they were the work of convicted fraudsters Cullen Johnson and Elaine White, who were eventually arrested and extradited to the US, and were made at a time when the two were “running away from the arms of the law”.

Mahmud was testifying before Shariah Judge Muhamad Abdul Karim Wahab in a ‘mutaah’ divorce claim brought by his ex-wife. He was represented by counsel Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Din, while Shahnaz was represented by Mohd Rafie Mohd Shafie and Akberdin Abdul Kader.

On claims that he had assets amounting to RM1.3 billion, Mahmud told the court that the report by his former wife’s appointed audit firm Ferrier Hodgson MH was not credible. The auditors had not written to him nor to the company secretaries of the various companies to determine his true wealth, he said.

“The report had also failed to take into consideration my liabilities and loans taken by my companies in their assessment,” he said. “The audit firm had even made gross mistakes such as claiming barren bush land to be productive oil palm plantations with harvest potential.”

The court was earlier told that the pair had divorced on 11 May 2011, twelve years after several attempts to divorce amicably failed. Living separately since 1999, Mahmud said that he had provided Shahnaz with between RM15,000 to RM20,000 a month as well as a bungalow residence.

He also claimed to have been attentive to the needs of their son despite the separation.

In addition to a claim for RM100 million in the form of a conciliatory gift (mutaah), Shanaz is also claiming RM500 million in matrimonial assets, and RM141 million for child maintenance which includes a terrace house in London (said to be worth RM60 million), two Aston Martins (RM5.5 million), and a private trust fund (RM40 million) to be held by her.

“The court needs to hear how Shanaz and her team commissioned and obtained forgeries from fraudsters who were subsequently indicted and jailed as well as determine the credibility of the report by Ferrier Hodgson MH,” Mahmud said.

Hearing continues on 27 August 2015.