KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Former minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz admitted to receiving RM500,000 from Consortium Zenith-BUCG Sdn Bhd to help repair dilapidated religious schools in southern Thailand, the Sessions Court was told today.
Nazri, who was former culture, arts and tourism minister from 2013 to 2018, was testifying as the 14th prosecution witness at Lim Guan Eng’s undersea tunnel corruption trial today.
He said this during cross-examination by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo who queried him on questions posed by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators into the case.
Gobind: Did they ask you whether you received money from Zenith-BUCG managing director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for the introduction or the project?
Gobind: Did he (Zarul) give you any money?
Nazri: Yes, a RM500,000 contribution to help rehabilitate dilapidated religious schools in Pattani district in southern Thailand.
Re-examined by prosecutors, Nazri explained that he hailed from Hulu Perak and there were many Malay Muslims whose are of Patani descent including himself.
Thus he made it a point to assist religious schools and a mosque there which are in dilapidated condition.
In his witness statement, Nazri testified that he had known Zarul since the 1990s as an acquaintance of his old friends, but not in terms of politics or business.
He also conceded that it was he who introduced Zarul to Lim after the latter expressed a desire to meet someone “powerful” in Penang regarding a project, which he did not name at the material time around late-2010 to early-2011.
“Zarul informed me that he wanted to know someone of influence in Penang to get him a project.
“But I did not know what project that was. I cannot remember the date he told me this.
“I took the initiative to contact and ask Lim if he is interested to meet Zarul regarding projects in Penang,” Nazri said.
Nazri said Lim subsequently agreed to meet with Zarul and he then arranged a meeting in January 2011 at Hotel Shangri-La at 9pm.
Explaining further, Nazri said the meeting took place at the hotel’s pub about 9pm and Zarul joined them about 10 minutes later.
However he told the court he had trouble recollecting the nature of conversation between Zarul and Lim which lasted about an hour.
He also affirmed that a second meeting between Zarul and Lim took place at another restaurant around March 2011.
“However, I do not remember whether I contacted Lim or Zarul prior to the meeting,” he said.
Several prosecution witnesses prior to today’s hearing had testified that Lim did not declare in the state executive councillor meeting that he had known Zarul beforehand before his company bid for the undersea tunnel project.
In this trial, Lim faces four charges, one under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act for having allegedly solicited kickbacks of 10 per cent of future profits from Zarul as a reward to help the latter’s company secure the project in March 2011, as the then CM.
He is also facing a charge under Section 23(1) of the same Act for allegedly receiving RM3.3 million in kickbacks from Zarul between January 2011 and October 2017 for allegedly helping the latter’s company secure the mega project.
MORE TO COME