Price for Guan Eng’s house purchase set before Aug 2013, court told

Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Penang High Court in George Town March 27, 2018. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Penang High Court in George Town March 27, 2018. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, March 27 ― The purchase price for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s house here was agreed on before he applied for a housing loan in August 2013, the Penang High Court heard today during his graft trial.

A certified financial planner, Lim Wern Shern, told the court that Guan Eng, through his wife Betty Chew Gek Cheng, had contacted him to apply for a housing loan of RM2.1 million in August 2013.

He said it was possible that Guan Eng and the house seller had agreed on the purchase price of the house in Pinhorn Road before he submitted applications for a housing loan.

When Guan Eng’s lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, asked if it was normal for a house purchase process including loan applications, documentations and other transactions to take three months up to even eight months or a year, Wern Shern agreed it was.

“The duty assessment for the property purchase will only be processed after the formalisation of the sales and purchase agreement and the presentation of transfer,” Wern Shern said, when asked when the duty assessment was processed in a house purchase.

The former Citibank sales manager also told the court that the final value of the property may ultimately be different from the initial price agreed upon by both buyer and seller due to the long process it takes to finalise the sale.

Gobind also suggested that Guan Eng could have agreed on a purchase price with the house seller in 2012, before he applied for the loan in 2013.

Wern Shern said he did not know about private agreements made between the buyer and seller prior to the loan application.

Earlier, Wern Shern read out his witness statement that Chew had contacted him about applying for a housing loan to purchase a house on 25, Pinhorn Road.

He said Chew submitted the loan application documents in September 2013 under Guan Eng’s name for a loan of RM2.1 million.

He said Guan Eng signed the bank letter of offer for the housing loan in December 2013, but later cancelled the house purchase.

“Betty Chew Gek Cheng contacted me again on June 5 in 2015 to start another housing loan application process,” he said.

He said Guan Eng applied for a RM2.1 million loan to purchase a RM2.8 million house in Pinhorn Road.

He said the loan, with a 15 years repayment tenure of RM16,172.39 per month, was approved on July 23, 2015.

Guan Eng, along with businesswoman Phang Li Koon, were charged with graft over his house purchase deal in 2015.

Lim was charged with using his position as a public officer to obtain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew, by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem to convert agricultural land to residential purpose during a state planning committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

Lim is alleged to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his house from Phang at RM2.8 million, which was below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million on July 28, 2015.

Phang meanwhile was charged under Section 109 of the Penal Code for abetting Lim on July 28 last year in regards to his purchase of the house on Pinhorn Road from her for RM2.8 million which was below the market value or RM4.27 million whereby Lim had allegedly committed an offense under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

A total 14 witnesses have been called to testify for the trial today while 11 witnesses have already testified yesterday.

The prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, is expected to call in 54 witnesses throughout the whole trial.

This is the first week of the trial before adjourning until April 9.

The case will then be heard from April 9 to 12, April 23 to 27, May 7 to 10 and May 21 to 25 this year.

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