Spotlight still on ‘RM2 million chocolate’ in Guan Eng’s graft trial

The issue of ‘RM2 million chocolate for big boss’ and ‘prime minister’ dominated the corruption trial of former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and a major road construction project in the state.

The matter was brought up again when prosecution witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Forensics Department investigating officer Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof was being cross-examined by lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, representing Lim. 

Wan Mohd Firdaus said it was mentioned in a Whatsapp chat between Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and businessman G. Gnanaraja on Aug 17, 2017 that the ‘chocolate’ was for the ‘big boss’. 

Gobind: Did ‘big boss’ refer to the prime minister at that time? 

Wan Mohd Firdaus: No. 

The prime minister then was Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Wan Mohd Firdaus then agreed with Gobind that in a July 23, 2017 Whatsapp conversation involving the same individuals, a birthday cake-cutting ceremony for an individual known as ‘big boss’ at a residence in Taman Duta was also mentioned. 

Gobind went on to state that it was clear that ‘big boss’ did not refer to Lim, as his client did not reside in Taman Duta nor was his birthday on July 23. 

Meanwhile, Wan Mohd Firdaus also agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin that the (Whatsapp) conversation did not mention that RM2 million was never paid to Lim.

Wan Shaharuddin: In the forensic (Whatsapp) chat transcript report, was it stated that RM2 million was paid to anyone else?

Wan Mohd Firdaus: No.

Wan Shaharuddin: Was the word CM (chief minister) Lim Guan Eng not stated at all in the chat transcript report?

Wan Mohd Firdaus: The conversation involving Gnanaraja dated August 17, 2017 at 6.14 pm mentioned ‘Penang CM’, while the one from Datuk Zarul at 5.15 pm read as ‘stay in Penang Sir, CM postpone my meeting with him, 7 petang (7 pm)’.

Meanwhile, Gobind said as the prosecution was relying on the Whatsapp conversation for its case, the defence has applied for the full disclosure of its transcript report because evidence received by the defence indicates that Gnanaraja had received RM2 million from Zarul Ahmad.

Judge Azura Alwi then ordered the defence to file the application before Feb 15 and hearing was fixed for March 15.

Lim, 61, is facing an amended charge of using his position as the chief minister of Penang to accept a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping a company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702 at the Office of the Chief Minister of Penang, 28th Floor, Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.

For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe from Zarul Ahmad, namely 10 per cent of the company’s profits, as an inducement for obtaining the project and is accused of committing the act near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.

Lim also faces two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million owned by the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies allegedly linked to the undersea tunnel project.  — BERNAMA