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Diamond rings of ex-wife of Sultan of Brunei sold to pay gambling debts

Written By LAILANATASHA on Thursday, February 13, 2014 | 12:59 PM

Fatimah Lim, 35, a former personal assistant and bodyguard of Mariam Aziz, ex-wife of the Sultan of Brunei, is on trial in Britain for stealing three diamond rings worth RM65.65 million.
She is alleged to have done so in order to pay off a 5 million pounds (RM27.35 million) debt to five London casinos, as reported by The Straits Times.
"I had the idea of getting the diamond rings and selling them off to pay my debts - my intention was to get the diamond rings back after paying my debt," Lim said in her statement to Brunei police.
Lim, a 2002 Commonwealth Games silver medallist badminton player for Singapore, is also said to have covered the theft by replacing the rings with glass replicas.
Lim was arrested in Brunei in January 2010.
During the trial at Isleworth Crown Court in London last Friday, Lim claimed Brunei officers changed her statement to shift the blame for the loss of the gems away from her former boss and the Bruneian royal family.
She claimed she was told to sell the rings to pay off Mariam's gambling debts.
But reports in the British media said Lim herself chalked up a huge debt at top London casinos.
Mariam had admitted in the London court that she sold jewellery to pay off 1 million pounds (RM5.4 million) in gambling debts after a spree at a string of London casinos.
The London court heard that Lim twice asked Mariam's adopted daughter Afifa Abdullah if she could borrow a 12.71 carat blue diamond worth 7.6 million pounds (RM41.5 million), and a 27.1 carat yellow diamond worth 600,000 pounds (RM3.2 million), as collateral on a property deal.
After she got the two diamond rings, she took them to Edwin Solomon, a jeweler, and got them sized and photographed before returning them to Afifa, Lim is said to have told Brunei police.
The ex-shuttler also showed Solomon a forged letter stating that the jewels were a gift from Mariam to her mother as a gesture of appreciation for 28 years of service as her personal assistant, the British court heard.
Mariam refuted this and told the court that Lim's mother had never worked for her.
She is said to have sold the real diamonds to a Swiss dealer for 4.3 million pounds (RM23.5 million).
When the fakes were eventually discovered by Mariam, The Independent reported that Lim sent a text message to Mariam's nephew, saying: "I truly regret what I have done. I really do. Please tell (Mariam) to give me a chance to repent. I can't be behind bars. I am the breadwinner for two families."
The criminal trial is a sequel to the civil suit in 2012 in London which Mariam won against Lim for the loss of the jewellery. The court in the civil case had found Lim liable for the losses and had ordered her to repay Mariam S$7.88 million (RM20.7 million).
Mariam Aziz, 57, the former wife of the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, is a former air-hostess of Bruneian, Japanese and Scottish ancestry. She was married to the Sultan for 22 years before their divorce in 2003. They have four children, and remain on good terms, according to British newspaper The Independent.
Fatimah Kumin Lim, 35, is a former Singapore national badminton player who played professionally from 1994 to 2002. She won a doubles silver medal with teammate Jiang Yanmei at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
She quit the sport in December 2002 at the age of 24 because of persistent knee injuries
In 2003, Lim went to Brunei where she was hired as Mariam's badminton coach, before becoming her bodyguard.

-malaysian insider
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