KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s son, Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Abdul Taib, raked up a whopping RM782,520.88 bill on his American Express platinum card within the first six months of this year, a bank executive testified in a syariah court today, bolstering Shahnaz Abdul Majid’s RM400 million divorce settlement claim on her ex-husband.
The divorce settlement proceedings are once again shining a light on the purported wealth of the Sarawak chief minister’s family at a time of growing scrutiny ahead of national polls.
“Ya, I confirm all the information in the American Express platinum credit card account statement is owned by Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Abdul Taib,” Musinah Manap said under oath.
The customer service manager at banking giant Maybank had earlier read out Mahmud Abu Bekir’s monthly statement of accounts one by one, from January to June this year.
Mahmud Abu Bekir had charged RM166,332.37 to his American Express card in January; RM148,763.88 in February; RM102,236.85 in March; RM172,193.23 in April; RM39,454.70 in May; and RM153,539.85 in June, bringing the total to RM782,520.88.
The bank worker had nearly been blocked from testifying today after the lawyer for the husband, Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, objected to the plaintiff bringing in witnesses at the last minute.
Federal Territory Syariah High Court judge Datuk Muhammad Abdullah had initially rejected the request from Shahnaz’s lawyers for several bank officers to verify Mahmud Abu Bekir’s Amex card expenditure.
He later changed his ruling on the condition the defence lawyers be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.
The divorce hearing will resume on December 24 at 10am.
Shahnaz was represented by lawyers, Mohd Rafie Mohd Shafie and Akbardin Abdul Kadir.
The plantiff’s lawyers told the court they plan to present three more banking employees to testify in the case, including a Swiss Bank chief executive officer who was not named.
Shahnaz, the sister of jazz queen Datuk Sheila Majid, had previously testified that her former husband has an estimated RM700 million deposited in 111 banking accounts worldwide.
She told the court previously that Mahmud Abu Bekir had squirreled away US$25 million (RM76.3 million) in two personal accounts in Luxembourg’s Edmond de Rothschild bank.
Her ex-husband also has several accounts with the same European bank in Switzerland with deposits of US$31 million, Shahnaz had said.
Mahmud Abu Bekir also had several accounts with British banking giant HSBC — two in Jersey with US$34 million in deposits and one in Hong Kong with deposits of US$9.6 million in his name.
All these accounts have a combined value of US$100 million in deposits.
In court papers filed during her divorce application, Shahnaz had sought to have Mahmud Abu Bekir’s assets — among which she listed seven luxury cars, thousands of hectares of land in Sarawak and shares in 15 companies — declared as joint property and for it be halved.
Shahnaz, who holds an MBA in finance and was at one time a director of the family-owned CMSB, had previously said she wanted to end their marriage under the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 because her ex-husband had not given her “nafkah batin” since 2001.
The 49-year-old also accused Mahmud Abu Bekir of punching her in the head, face and eyes; kicking her in the ribs; and throttling her — in addition to verbally abusing her with derogatory words, and thereby causing emotional and mental stress.* An earlier version of this article miss-stated Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Abdul Taib's credit card bill for the period as RM880,958.91. The correct amount is RM782,520.88 and the report has been amended to reflect this.