$18m theft: Ex-shuttler not fighting extradition to Britain

Former national shuttler Fatimah Kumin Lim was sued in a London court for stealing two diamond rings worth around $16 million from Madam Mariam.

SINGAPORE - Former national shuttler Fatimah Kumin Lim will not fight extradition to Britain, where she is wanted for allegedly stealing two diamond rings worth nearly US$14 million (S$18 million).

The rings belonged to Madam Mariam Aziz, who was once married to the Sultan of Brunei.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Lim's lawyer Thong Chee Kun said that his client intends to challenge the accusations in a British court.

Dressed in prison garb of white shirt and brown slacks and manacled hand and foot, Lim, who has been in remand at Changi Women's Prison for a month, appeared to be in good spirits, smiling at her lawyers several times.

If she does not change her mind in the next 15 days, she will be extradited within two months to Britain, where she may face a 10-year maximum jail term.

The 35-year-old Lim, a 2002 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, went to Brunei in late 2003 after being hired as a badminton coach by Madam Mariam.

That same year, Madam Mariam, a former stewardess, got divorced from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah after a 22-year marriage. Lim later became the 55-year-old's assistant and bodyguard, travelling around the world with her.

She allegedly stole the rings in 2009, while accompanying Madam Mariam in London, then sold them to Geneva-based jewellers Gemcut SA for US$7.7 million (S$9.71 million).

One of the two stolen rings had a 12.71-carat, pear-shaped, flawless vivid blue diamond, reportedly worth US$12.7 million (S$16 million) - a gift from the Sultan in 1986. The other was a 27.1-carat, vivid yellow diamond, which Madam Mariam said was worth at least US$1 million (S$1.26 million). Madam Mariam sued Lim in a London court in April last year, and was awarded $7.88 million (S$9.93 million)).

Since then, around $6.1 million (S$7.69 million) has been recovered from Lim's bank accounts and assets, including her Shanghai Road flat that was sold for over $1.5 million (S$1.89 million).

Lim was arrested here last month. Singapore's High Court refused her bail last week after the Attorney-General's Chambers argued that the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits bail to arrested fugitives. Senior State Counsel Kow Keng Siong also said she was a flight risk. This is believed to be the first case of a Singaporean being sought for theft in Britain.

khush@sph.com.sg


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