I'm the one who introduced Guan Eng to Consortium Zenith exec director, Nazri tells court

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz introduced a businessman, who turned out to be a key figure in Lim Guan Eng's corruption trial, to the former Penang chief minister.

Nazri, the Padang Rengas MP, told the Sessions Court here on Monday (Nov 29) that a meeting took place with him, Lim and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkefli at a hotel pub here in January 2011 where the introduction was made.

Nazri also conceded that Zarul Ahmad had given him RM500,000, not for any project, but to be donated to religious schools in southern Thailand.

While testifying as the 14th witness in Lim’s trial, he said he had known Zarul Ahmad as a friend since the 1990s and they had no business or political dealings.

“Zarul mentioned that he wanted to know someone influential in Penang to help him get (a) project, but he did not say what project it was. I also cannot remember on what date he told me that.

“I took the initiative to get in touch with Lim Guan Eng and asked if he was interested to meet Zarul regarding any project in Penang.

“He agreed and I fixed the meeting in January 2011 at the Hotel Shangri-La,” he said when reading from his witness statement.

Nazri said the meeting took place at about 9pm at the hotel’s pub, where Zarul Ahmad stayed for about an hour before leaving.

“I was still with Lim Guan Eng after Zarul left. Throughout their conversation, I cannot remember if Zarul had asked Lim to award any projects to his company,” he said, adding that they both left at about 11pm.

Nazri also said that another meeting involving the three of them took place at an Italian restaurant in March 2011, but he could not remember who called for the meeting or what was discussed.

Cross-examined by Lim's counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Nazri said such introductions involving a businessman and a politician were “normal”.

When queried, he said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had taken his statement but he could not remember where it was taken.

Gobind: Did they (MACC) ask whether you received any money from Datuk Zarul Ahmad for the introduction or the project?

Nazri: No.

Gobind: Did he (Zarul) give you any money?

Nazri: He did, and asked for it to be distributed to help religious schools and institutions in Pattani, southern Thailand.

Gobind: You received RM500,000... it was not for this case?

Nazri: Not for this case.

During re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin, Nazri said Zarul Ahmad had given him the money but it was to be used for charitable purposes.

“I am from Hulu Perak and there are many residents there who are actually descendants of the Pattani people.

“I have been helping the religious schools in Pattani for a long time,” he said.

Lim, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.

For the first amended charge, the Bagan MP, who is also former finance minister, is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help Zarul Ahmad's company secure the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister's Office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project.

Lim is charged with committing the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.

Lim is also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil owned by the Penang state government to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The trial before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi continues.

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