KUALA LUMPUR: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here to soliciting gratification to help a company secure the RM6.3bil Penang undersea tunnel project.
Lim is accused of using his position as the then chief minister to solicit a 10% cut of the profits which would be made from the road and tunnel project.
According to the charge sheet, he is alleged to have sought 10% of the profits from Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli as an inducement to get the contract for the project. Zenith was awarded the project.
The offence was allegedly committed at a hotel along Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, here in March 2011.
The charge under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 carries imprisonment not exceeding 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
A solemn-looking Lim, who was dressed in a black suit and red tie, pleaded not guilty when the charge was read out to him.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin requested for bail to be set at RM2mil with Lim reporting to the MACC once a month and asked the court to come out with an order to refrain Lim from making sub judice comments.
In response, Lim’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, asked the court to impose bail of RM500,000 in one surety, saying that his client had cooperated with the probe and would attend all the hearings.
Judge Azura Alwi set bail at RM1mil in two sureties and also instructed Lim to surrender his passport to the court until the trial takes place.
The next mention of the case is on Sept 9.
Interest in the case was high with a large media turnout, including foreign media, at the court complex.
Because of physical distancing measures, only 10 journalists were allowed to cover the open court proceedings while the rest followed the proceedings via a live video link.
Lim will also be charged in the Penang Sessions Court on Aug 10 and 11 under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.
The MACC had said that yesterday’s and next Monday’s court appearance was over the controversial undersea tunnel project, while the Aug 11 charging would be for “other cases”.
The controversial Penang undersea tunnel project was probed by the anti-graft authority following fresh leads.
Graft investigators had questioned close to a dozen of people over the case.
They include current Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and state executive councillors Jagdeep Singh Deo, Chong Eng and Phee Boon Poh.
The MACC also visited the offices of state public works, utilities and flood mitigation committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari and Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P. Ramasamy at Komtar.
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