Despite the heavy badgering at the Kuala Lumpur Shariah High Court today, Sarawak business entrepreneur Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib remained cool, calm and collected, denying all accusations hurled by the lawyers acting for his former wife Shahnaz Abdul Majid in their ‘mutaah’ (conciliatory gift) hearing.
Mahmud was queried on the names of his friends who had reported to him that Shahnaz had instructed them to track his every movement. He said that they included his driver and staff at their workplace Sarawak Securities.
He also denied that his father Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was the richest man in the world. On top of that he also denied having had many women in his life.
Mahmud testified before Judge Muhamad Abdul Karim Wahab today. He was represented by his counsels Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Din.
Lawyers acting for Shahnaz also claimed that the “international conspiracy theory” expounded by Mahmud was a figment of imagination.
In an earlier hearing last year, Mahmud testified that an international politically motivated conspiracy had evolved from his divorce maintenance hearings against him and his family, in particular, his father a Governor of Sarawak and an immediate former chief minister of the state.
“What was suppose to be a private matter in divorce maintenance claims before the courts was blown up into an international attack and slander to change the political landscape of Sarawak,” he said.
He had cited attacks from Sarawak Report led by British political activist Clare Rewcastle-Brown who is related to former UK prime minister Gordon Brown. Ms Rewcastle, he said, had picked up every conceivable piece of malicious gossip and political scandal to undermine his reputation and credibility.
He said that the attacks stemmed from his former wife and her team, one of whom is related to Malaysian opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Shahnaz’s lead counsel Mohd Rafie Mohd Shafie is father in law to one of Anwar’s daughters Nurul Ilham Anwar.
Mahmud was high-handedly challenged by the Shahnaz legal team to take legal action against the conspirators, to which Mahmud firmly replied that he had commenced legal action against them.
In an earlier court hearing, Mahmud said, “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.”
As a result, the attacks even continued into the Swiss Parliament where MPs had demanded that Swiss banks reveal his accounts following Shahnaz’s revelation of 111 purported offshore bank accounts.
“These bank accounts are forgeries masquerading as hacks. They are not real,” he said.
On 24 September 2013, following accusations by Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga, the Swiss Attorney General informed the Bruno Manser Fund and the public that no members of the Taib family held assets with Swiss banks after 1999. Prior to this date, two family members had held Swiss accounts.
“The forged documents were obtained by my former wife and her team at a time when the fraudsters were running away from the arms of the law. The fugitives took refuge at Turks and Caicos Islands in 2010 where they continued to dupe clients in an international scheme that involved bogus promises of offshore millions.
“The Canadian pair had fabricated astoundingly realistic-looking banking information that would lead one party to believe the other had millions of dollars in assets offshore.”
On 10 April 2013, the fraudsters Cullen Johnson and Elaine White were extradited to the US from a Turks and Caicos prison on charges of money laundering, tax evasion and several charges of fraud valued at over US$1m. They have been indicted and jailed.
He said it has been widely reported on the Internet that Sarawak Report political activist Clare Rewcastle-Brown had been in communication with Cullen Johnson. Johnson was also reported to have been in communication with his former wife and her team through a local private investigator.
Shahnaz is claiming RM100 million for ‘mutaah’. She had also claimed in excess of RM121 million for child maintenance for their son Raden Murya Abdul Taib Mahmud to include a terrace house in London (RM60 million), a residence in Bukit Tunku (RM10 million), two Aston Martins (RM5.5 million), medical insurance (RM5 million) and a private trust fund (RM40 million) to be held and managed by her.
The multi million Ringgit demands have made it one of the most contentious divorce claims, one in which no precedent has been set in a Shariah court. Mahmud is defending the claims vigorously.
Hearing continues 15 June 2015.