Case of stolen ‘zakat’ funds remitted to Intermediate Court

National 1 minute, 51 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE public official who pleaded guilty to siphoning off zakat fitrah funds had his case remitted to the Intermediate Court yesterday where he will be sentenced.

Junaidi Hj Duraman, a zakat fitrah collection and distribution officer, had been due to be sentenced yesterday before it emerged that due to the severity of the penalty he is facing, the matter is beyond the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court.

The prosecution then applied for the sentencing to be remitted to the Intermediate Court during yesterday’s proceedings.

Presiding Senior Magistrate Lailatul Zubaidah Hj Mohd Hussain remitted the case to the higher court, where an Intermediate Court judge will set the dates for sentencing.

However, the date and identity of the judge are still to be confirmed as Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong will have to first appoint the judge for this case.

The 49-year-old defendant is facing up to 10 years in prison after he admitted to misappropriating $11,707.40 in zakat fitrah funds collected from the Kg Pandan mosque during the month of Ramadhan five years ago.

The offence was discovered after a bilal from the mosque lodged a complaint with the Department of Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) Zakat Fitrah Collection and Distribution Unit (BAKAZ) that he had yet to receive his fee for his work as an _amil _nearly a year after the funds were collected.

An internal investigation conducted following the complaint revealed that the funds were never deposited into MUIB’s bank account and that the defendant had failed to submit several documents which were necessary to confirm that the collected funds had been deposited to BAKAZ.

Upon being questioned by his superiors, Junaidi initially claimed that the zakat fitrah funds had been stolen from his unlocked car but the defendant later admitted that this was mere fabrication.

Junaidi asked for grace periods, which were initially granted, from the MUIB secretary to return the missing funds but failed to meet the deadline.

A subsequent investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau found the defendant to have committed criminal breach of trust by intentionally misappropriating public funds for his personal use, which was later revealed to be for daily expenses, car repairs and a loan repayment to a Filipino loan shark.

The Brunei Times