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Penang undersea tunnel project: Lim Guan Eng charged again for corruption

10 Aug 2020 / 15:03 H.

BUTTERWORTH: The controversy surrounding the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project which has dragged on for years saw former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng being brought before the court again today and charged with corruption.

Today, he was brought before the sessions court here and charged with using his position as the Chief Minister of Penang for gratification to help a company to secure the project.

Last Friday, Lim had pleaded not guilty in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to a charge with soliciting gratification to help secure the project for the same company.

At the sessions court here today, Lim, 60, was charged with using his position as the Penang Chief Minister then for gratification amounting RM3,300,000 for himself as an inducement for helping a company owned by Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the project, valued at RM6,341,383,702.

Zarul is a director at Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.

Lim also pleaded not guilty today before judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid.

The court then allowed Lim bail, applying the same bail of RM1 million imposed on him by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

Ahmad Azhar also ordered Lim’s case in Penang to be jointly tried with his corruption case at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court following an application by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

For the charge under Section 16 (a) (A) of the MACC Act, which has been registered at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, he said, the purpose of soliciting the gratification was to help the company owned by Zarul be appointed to implement the undersea tunnel project.

For the charge of abusing his position, the offence was said to have been committed by taking action to help the company owned by Zarul to be appointed to implement the Main Road and Tunnel Construction Project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702, he added.

Ahmad Akram said the most significant factor was that the two charges involved the same key witness, that is Zarul, and in both cases, involved the same project.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, representing Lim, objected to the prosecution’s application to transfer the case to the Kuala Lumpur Court, saying that the charge made against his client today was wide-ranging.

“No information was given as to where and when it happened. What is clear is that it all happened at the Chief Minister’s office in Komtar. In the charge, the amount of gratification of RM3.3 million is mentioned, (but) no mention of any witnesses involved,“ he said.

Gobind said the grounds given by the prosecution (in requesting fort the transfer) that the case involved too many documents and having to commute (between Kuala Lumpur and Penang) were baseless.

In the proceedings, Ahmad Akram also applied to the court to issue an order to prevent parties from making statement that would subjudice the case.

He mentioned two articles that were published by news portals on the case, which he said had crossed the line and led to the merits of the case.

Ahmad Akram then produced the two articles to the court, one on a statement by DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua and the other by DAP education director Liew Chin Tong.

Judge Ahmad Azhari did not issue any order, but said complaints or legal action can be taken if it happened.

Meanwhile, media representatives, including photographers, had arrived at the entrance to the court compound early to cover the Lim’s case.

However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, only four reporters were allowed into the court room, while six others were allowed to wait at the lobby.

Tomorrow, Lim is expected to be charged in the same court for an offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act, as well as his wife, Betty Chew and businesswoman Phang Li Khoo.

On June 30, 2016, Lim was charged with corruption in the Penang High Court in connection with his purchase of a bungalow at below the market value.

However on Sept 3, 2018, the court acquitted him of the charge. — Bernama

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