Zakat officer faces up to 10 years in jail for embezzlement

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A ZAKAT Fitrah collection and distribution officer is facing up to 10 years in prison and an unspecified amount in fines after pleading no contest to the charge of misappropriating over $11,000 in Zakat funds five years ago.

Senior Magistrate Lailatul Zubaidah Hj Mohd Hussain yesterday allowed 49-year-old Junaidi Hj Duraman, assistant superintendent, Zakat and Fitrah Grade II, to be released on $5,000 bail pending sentencing on June 15.

The misappropriation of funds was discovered after a bilal from Kg Pandan Mosque lodged a complaint with the Department of Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) Zakat Fitrah Collection and Distribution Unit (BAKAZ) central office on July 5, 2011 that he had yet to receive his fee when he was appointed as an ‘Amil’.

The $11,707.40 of Zakat funds were collected during the month of Ramadhan in 2010 from Kg Pandan Mosque which the bilal submitted to MUIB in Belait District’s BAKAZ. The funds were received by Junaidi, the defendant in this case, who at the time was employed as an officer of the Belait District BAKAZ.

An internal investigation revealed that the funds hadn’t been deposited into the Department of Islamic Religious Council’s bank account.

It was further revealed that Junaidi had failed to submit the deposit slip, a green form, and the collector’s statement to the central office of the BAKAZ. There was also no record made in MUIB’s Finance Section ‘Cash Book’ of the Zakat Fitrah funds having been deposited into the bank account.

These documents were necessary to confirm that the funds had been deposited in the bank and also necessary to be furnished to process the payment of the ‘Amil’ fee.

Upon being questioned by his superiors, Junaidi initially claimed that the Zakat Fitrah funds had been stolen from his unlocked vehicle, which was parked at the Soon Lee Department Store. According to Junaidi, the theft took place when he went to use the toilet.

When asked why he didn’t report the theft to the police, Junaidi didn’t respond.

Junaidi asked for grace periods from the MUIB secretary to return the missing Zakat Fitrah funds but failed to meet the deadlines.

Following an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Junaidi was found to have committed a criminal breach of trust by having dishonestly misappropriated the Zakat Fitrah funds for his personal use.

Junaidi further admitted that he had used the funds to pay a Filipino loan shark and for his car repairs. He also used the funds to pay for his daily expenses. He further admitted that his earlier claim that the funds had been stolen was fabricated.

The Brunei Times