Call for review – RM30 million award exorbitant


  • Former wife had already received comforts of a villa, private pool and use of three vehicles after divorce
  • Bank testimonies not authorized, must be expunged
  • Ferrier Hodgson MH valuation report not credible nor final
  • One-third of RM30 million award to be given away to charity by former wife, underscoring ‘mutaah’ was not entirely for her personal benefit

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The Shariah Court of Appeal, the highest in the Shariah judicial system, was today told that in the various interpretations for ‘mutaah’, it was prescribed that it should be within reason as an Islamic conciliatory gift for a former wife to begin a new life after divorce.

As such, Sarawak business entrepreneur Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib has appealed against the unreasonably high RM30 million ‘mutaah’ award handed down on 10 March 2016 by Shariah High Court Judge Abdul Karim bin Wahab to his former wife Shahnaz Abdul Majid.

‘Mutaah’ originates from the Arabic word ‘al-Mataa’ meaning things which may delight the heart and can be put to good use. It is a Shariah practice that dates back centuries in the peacemaking between the parties from animosity in a divorce.

Islamic references, it was submitted, recommend 30 Dirhams as the conciliatory gift. Translated into gold the often accepted currency, this would amount to 100.8 grams or a Ringgit value equivalent of approximately RM15,654.24 (at RM155.30 per gram).

In the oral submissions today, the Shariah Appeals Court was also told that at the height of the divorce, Datuk Seri Mahmud continued to provide to his former wife the comforts of a three-storey villa with a private swimming pool in the posh Bukit Damansara enclave worth several million Ringgit, as well as the use of three vehicles which she had not objected to, and all of which should be considered as more than sufficient ‘mutaah’ to set her going.

It was also highlighted that upon being awarded the RM30 million, Shahnaz had immediately pledged publicly before the media that she would give away one-third of her ‘mutaah’ to the unfortunate including single parents, orphans and runaways. This inferred that her claim for a substantial ‘mutaah’ was of no merit as a personal benefit but rather made as an exaggerated vexatious claim in the high profile divorce.

Citations were also presented to underscore that the measure of a husband’s wealth could not be applied in the determination of ‘mutaah’ under Shariah law and principles. Section 56 of the Islamic Family Law Act (Federal Territory) 1984, prescribes that a husband should just pay a fair amount.

Claims that Mahmud had assets amounting to over RM1 billion assessed by his former wife’s appointed independent advisor Ferrier Hodgson MH authored by Andrew Heng, were not verified and therefore, not acceptable, it was submitted. The author had declared it did not have access to the Malaysian companies alleged to be owned by Datuk Seri Mahmud when preparing the report.

According to documents tendered, the report was stated a preliminary report and not a final report to arrive at any true assessment. There had been no physical inspections or sightings conducted by the author to determine an accurate valuation.

It was also contended that the report had failed to take into consideration Datuk Seri Mahmud’s borrowings and liabilities, and those taken by his companies when assessing his net wealth.

It added that the valuation report had also contained several disclaimers and that the report further affirmed that it would not be held responsible for any misrepresentation in the accuracy of the information.

Datuk Seri Mahmud also called for the testimonies of the bank officers from CIMB Bank and Maybank be expunged as the officers were not authorised to reveal his fixed deposit accounts and spending on his AMEX card.

In the submissions today, 28 points were raised by the legal team of Datuk Seri Mahmud before Appeal judges Datuk Yusof bin Musa, Saarani bin Ismail and Datuk Dr Mohd Naim.

The Judges will deliver a decision on 16 October 2018.

Shariah lawyers Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Saadiah Din appeared for Datuk Seri Mahmud while lawyers Mohd Rafie Mohd Shafie and Datuk Akberdin bin Haji Abdul Kader acted for Shahnaz.

 

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