SHAH ALAM: A businessman, who is well known as “Dato Sri G” or DSG, has been accused of cheating just a day after news broke that his title has been revoked by the Pahang palace.
Gnanaraja Gnanasundram, 38, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here to three counts of cheating in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project.
He is accused of deceiving Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, the managing director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, into paying him RM19mil in three transactions between July and August 2017.
In return, Gnanaraja would supposedly use his “connections” to help “settle” an ongoing Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the consortium.
The consortium is the main contractor for the massive RM6.3bil undersea tunnel project.
Gnanaraja allegedly deceived Zarul into giving him RM2mil in cash, twice in July and again in August 2017, at Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya.
He is also accused of cheating Zarul of RM15mil on July 27, 2017, at a CIMB Bank branch at the Petronas Twin Towers.
The money was transferred from a Maybank account of Syarikat Vizione Construction Sdn Bhd to a CIMB account which belonged to Syarikat Bumi Muhibbah Capital Holding Sdn Bhd.
All three charges came under Section 420 of the Penal Code for “cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property”.
If convicted, Gnanaraja can be jailed a maximum 10 years with whipping as well as a fine for each offence.
MACC deputy public prosecutor Datuk Umar Saifuddin Jaafar requested for the bail to be set at RM100,000 in one surety and also sought for his passport to be impounded.
Gnanaraja was represented by Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent.
Judge Rozilah Salleh set bail at RM100,000 in one surety and fixed May 6 for mention and submission of documents.
An online personality with about 892,000 followers on Instagram, Gnanaraja introduced himself on his website as an actor, film producer and social entrepreneur.
He is currently the president of Agro Malaysia, an association of agro-entrepreneurs.
A day before he was charged, an image of an official letter went viral on social media, stating that his “Datuk Seri” title has been revoked by the Pahang palace on March 13.
Pahang government sources confirmed the matter.
The state secretary’s office protocol and official events management division said Gnanaraja had yet to return his award.
In the letter dated March 13, state secretary Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Ishak informed Gnanaraja that his Sri Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang award that was conferred on March 19, 2014, had been revoked and cancelled with immediate effect.
The award, which carries the title “Datuk Seri”, was granted in conjunction with Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah’s 83rd birthday then at Istana Pahang in Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.