Tunnel project : I didn’t disclose former CM’s name to MACC in 2018 — Witness

KUALA LUMPUR — The key prosecution witness in Lim Guan Eng’s (picture) corruption case informed the Sessions Court here that he withheld the former Penang Chief Minister’s name when providing information to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in 2018.

Consortium Zenith Construction director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, 65, said this was because he was informed about a separate special investigation by the MACC concerning the Penang undersea tunnel project implicating Lim

He said he was summoned by the MACC to provide testimony regarding the fraud case of businessman G. Gnanaraja, which pertained to RM19 million, linked to the same undersea tunnel project.

Zarul Ahmad said this when lawyer Haijan Omar, who represented Lim, challenged the witness’ credibility before Judge Azura Alwi today.

Haijan: Do you agree with me that you didn’t mention Gnanaraja’s role in relation to Lim in your statement to the MACC because MACC officials prevented you from doing so?

Zarul Ahmad: It’s not that they didn’t allow it, but they mentioned there was another special investigation.

In response to another question, the witness said, “It is true that I disclosed everything I know, but I was told it was a special investigation, so I was instructed to respond only to the specific questions asked.

However, the 23rd prosecution witness disagreed with Haijan’s suggestion that his statement in court regarding Lim’s involvement was an afterthought because it was not included in his testimony to the MACC.

Zarul Ahmad said he discovered he had been deceived by Gnanaraja after the RM19 million, intended to be channeled to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to bolster relations before the 14th General Election and to safeguard his company from allegations, was not transferred by the businessman as agreed upon.

“I believe all of the RM19 million was indeed channeled to Datuk Seri Najib through Gnanaraja, although I have never met Najib. I only realised I was duped after the MACC investigated and found out Najib didn’t take the money,” Zarul Ahmad said.

He concurred with Haijan that in August 2017, Gnanaraja repeatedly contacted him to request RM2 million, despite the witness having previously transferred RM15 million to the account of Bumi Muhibbah Capital Holding Sdn Bhd, which belonged to the businessman.

Zarul Ahmad disagreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that his statement to the MACC conflicted with his testimony in court.

According to the first amended charge, Lim, 63, is alleged of using his position as chief minister of Penang at the time to receive bribes amounting to RM3.3 million, by helping a company owned by Zarul Ahmad to be appointed to implement a highway and undersea tunnel project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim is alleged to have committed the act between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is alleged to have sought a bribe of 10 per cent of the profits from Zarul Ahmad as an inducement to help the businessman’s company be appointed for the same project.

Lim allegedly committed the act near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City between 12.30am and 2am, in March 2011.

He is also facing two charges of causing two lots of land owned by the Penang government worth RM208.8 million to be disposed of to companies allegedly linked to the undersea tunnel project in the state.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang State Land and Mines Office, Komtar on February 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The hearing continues on May 2. — BERNAMA / pic TMR FILE