Former PPC chairman nabbed

GEORGE TOWN: The controversial RM6.3bil Penang undersea tunnel project is again being probed by the anti-graft authority following fresh leads.

More state officials are expected to be called up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), said highly-placed sources in the commission.

“As we have new leads in the case, we are resuming investigations.

“What I can say is that investigators are now in the midst of finalising the case,” said a source when contacted by The Star.

MACC also confirmed the arrest of former Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Jeffery Chew in connection with the case.

“We will be calling up more witnesses from the state government including those who attended the exco meetings,” the sources said, adding that the MACC had never closed its probe on the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Chew, who was arrested when he turned up to give a statement at the state MACC headquarters here at 2pm yesterday, will be remanded today.

Before he became PPC chairman in 2018, Chew, 52, was the special assistant to former chief minister Lim Guan Eng in charge of manufacturing, industries and investments.

Meanwhile, three MACC teams conducted raids at several companies in connection with the undersea tunnel project in the past few days.

It is understood that the operation also involved the police and the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).

The teams are believed to have been in Penang for the past two weeks to conduct the investigations, according to the sources.

About two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur, the MACC hauled up a senior executive of the company involved in the undersea tunnel project for questioning.

In May, the MACC confirmed opening six investigation papers on the Penang undersea tunnel project.

According to the anti-graft agency, the first investigation paper was opened in July 2017 while five more were launched in January last year.

It said a total of five investigation papers were completed and referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The MACC said three investigation papers were returned to the MACC for further investigation.

In 2018, the MACC remanded Ewein Bhd managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli over their involvement in the undersea tunnel project.

The anti-graft agency at that time raided the offices of four state government agencies – the Penang Public Works Department, Penang State Secretary, Penang Office of Lands and Mines, and Penang Valuation and Property Services Department – and three property development and construction companies – Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd, 555 Capital Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd’s Penang office.

Ewein Zenith is a joint-venture vehicle of Ewein Land Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd.

The latter is a Malaysia-China joint venture that was awarded the RM6.3bil mega project to build the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Prai, a 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, the 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

Consortium Zenith BUCG changed its name to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd after the withdrawal of Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG).

It is believed that the MACC is looking into why the state government allowed the Penang Tunnel special purpose vehicle (SPV) company to pre-sell state land rights worth RM3bil despite a four-year delay in the construction of roads.

Investigators are also believed to be looking into the RM305mil feasibility and detailed design studies that have yet to be completed, even though payment of RM220mil was made to the SPV.

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