LONDON: Former Singapore national badminton player Fatimah Kumin Lim walked free from a London court this week after a jury found her not guilty of defrauding the former wife of the Sultan of Brunei of three diamond rings.
The jury believed 35-year-old Lim, who was then employed as a personal bodyguard, had been tasked by her employer Mariam Aziz to sell US$12 million worth of gems to pay off considerable gambling debts that Ms Aziz wanted to keep secret from the Brunei royal family.
Lim, a 2002 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, went to Brunei in late 2003 after being hired as a badminton coach.
She later became Ms Aziz’s assistant and bodyguard.
She was arrested last year over the case.
This is not the first legal case to arise from this matter.
In 2012, Ms Aziz brought a successful civil suit against Lim for the loss of her jewellery.
Lim was ordered to pay just over US$6 million in compensation and was told by the judge she was an unreliable witness.
In the current case, Lim was alleged to have stole three diamond rings, had the gems replaced with fakes and sold the real diamonds to pay off her own gambling debts owed to several London casinos.
After five weeks of testimony in which jurors heard a parade of witnesses testify against Lim, the jury chose to believe her version of events.
During the trial, the court heard claims of Ms Aziz’s opulent lifestyle, that she travelled with an entourage of 10 people, including a chef and a hairdresser, and visited casinos around the world, losing up to US$1 million on a daily basis.
Lim wept with relief when the jury verdict was announced.
Sources close to Lim said she is keen to return to Singapore as soon as possible.