Guan Eng claims trial to graft involving RM3.3m in Penang undersea tunnel project

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Butterworth courthouse August 10, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Butterworth courthouse August 10, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

SEBERANG PERAI, Aug 10 — Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng today claimed trial to a graft charge involving RM3.3 million over the multi-billion ringgit undersea tunnel project at the Sessions Court here today.

The Penang lawmaker is accused of using his position as the Penang chief minister to obtain monetary gratification as an inducement to appoint Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli’s company for the construction of the RM6,341,383,702 Undersea Tunnel and Three Paired Roads project.

He allegedly committed the offence at the Chief Minister’s Office on Level 28 of Komtar in George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.

He is charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 for using his position to obtain gratification for himself.

Under Section 24(1) of the Act, he faces a jail term of not more than 20 years, a fine of no less than five times the amount involved, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Later, Sessions Court judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid allowed an application for the case to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur to be heard with another graft charge that Lim faces there.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib had submitted an application for the case here to be heard together with the earlier case that is under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009.

He told the court that both charges are related and that it was not logistically feasible to transport evidential documents from Putrajaya to Penang for the case here.

He also cited Lim’s position as an MP, which requires him to be present in Kuala Lumpur for Parliament sittings, as another reason to transfer the case there.

Lim’s chief counsel Gobind Singh Deo objected to the applications.

“There were no details of where and when the alleged transactions of RM3.3 million were made,” he told the court.

He further claimed that the charge against Lim was a broad allegation without any details and a general timeline spread out over six years.

A heated argument broke out between the prosecution and the lawyer when Ahmad Akram also applied for a court order to gag people from giving subjudice comments on the trial of the case against Lim.

Gobind objected to this application while stating that the same application was rejected by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court last Friday.

“There were also opposing parties who publicly commented on the case against Lim,” he said.

He added that the people had a right to defend Lim when the media raised questions about the cases against him.

Judge Ahmad Azhari agreed with Gobind and rejected the prosecution’s application.

Bail was not offered in this case as the bail sum of RM1 million with two sureties that Lim paid last week at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court is allowed to stand for this case too.

On August 7, Lim was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Friday with soliciting a bribe from the company that was awarded the contract to build the undersea tunnel.

He had claimed trial to asking for 10 per cent of profits from Datuk Zarul Zulkifli as inducement to help his company, Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, get the project to build the undersea tunnel.

He was charged under Section 16 (a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 which carries a maximum of 20 years’ jail and a fine of up to five times the value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Both cases will be heard at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on September 9.

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