PUTRAJAYA: An anonymous tip-off led graft-busters to track down a prominent businessman who is alleged to have received RM19mil to help “settle” the probe into the controversial RM6.34bil Penang undersea tunnel project.
Officers from the anti-graft agency are said to have received the complaint quite recently while pursuing the case.
The 37-year-old Datuk Seri was remanded yesterday and several of his accounts frozen.
“There was a substantial amount of money in these accounts but the total amount has not been recovered.
“We will be conducting investigations to see if he has deposited the money in banks elsewhere or parked it in the form of assets,” said a source familiar with the case.
The Datuk Seri has been remanded for six days until March 5 after magistrate Norhidayati Mohammad Nasroh allowed prosecutors from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to have the suspect in custody as investigators continue their probe into the matter.
He was detained after having his statement recorded at the MACC headquarters on Tuesday.
It is believed that the businessman obtained the money from the project’s main construction company in stages between July and August last year after claiming that he would be able to close the investigation.
He is the fifth person to be arrested in relation to investigations on the feasibility studies involving three main roads and an undersea tunnel. Last month, two high-ranking officials of construction companies with the title Datuk were picked up to assist in the case.
In a follow-up operation, another Datuk Seri, who is a company chairman, and its senior engineering consultant were also detained. All four have since been released on MACC bail.
The mega project includes the construction of a 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in north Butterworth.
There will also be a 10.53km north coastal paired road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, a 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and a 4.075km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.
The project came under the spotlight following reports lodged by Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan in 2016 and the MACC stepped in and started an investigation.
When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said investigations to trace the money which the businessman had allegedly received were under way but declined to elaborate.
“I can’t share any information as investigations have just begun. Let my officers do their job,” he said.
Asked if the MACC would be calling Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim to record his statements over claims that he had dealings with Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC), Azam said: “There is no necessity to call him for now.”
Abdul Azeez, who is also Tabung Haji chairman, was reported to have been served with a letter of demand from CZC, the main contractor of the Penang undersea tunnel project, a claim which he has denied.
An online news portal, quoting sources, reported that CZC had issued a demand letter on Feb 24 to Abdul Azeez, alleging that it had paid RM3mil to the MP and another RM19mil to the businessman for consultancy work related to the tunnel project.