Witness: I was shocked when Guan Eng asked for 10% of undersea tunnel project profit

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng had asked for 10% of the profit to be made by Consortium Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group in the state’s paired roads and undersea tunnel project, the Sessions Court here heard.

Reading out his witness statement at Lim’s trial on Friday (Dec 17), company owner Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, 62, said he was shocked when he heard the request.

Lim is facing four corruption charges involving the RM6.3bil construction project.

The consortium is a joint-venture company with Beijing Urban Construction Group Sdn Bhd (BUCG), which had been appointed to carry out the project.

The 23rd prosecution witness said when the request of 10% was made by the Bagan MP, it caused him to pause and think as he did not expect it from someone who had been against corruption all this while.

“What I understood was that the 10% was a bribe out of my company’s profit which I had to give to Lim when awarded the project. Then I agreed to the request.

“Lim was smiling after I said I agreed to give him that percentage of the profit from the project and he said that he or his officers would assist in providing whatever information I needed for the project,” Zarul Ahmad said.

He added that the discussion took place in his car when he and Lim were on their way to The Gardens Hotel in Mid Valley at midnight one day in March 2011.

Zarul Ahmad said Lim told him that China’s leader would be visiting Malaysia and a number of memorandums of understanding (MoU) would be signed.

He said Lim suggested an MoU signing between BUCG and the Penang government to be witnessed by China’s premier.

He said Lim also told him that if he (Zarul Ahmad) could hold the signing ceremony, the project would be awarded through direct negotiation.

“At that time, I was very excited about it. I agreed to hold the MoU signing as suggested by Lim. I was happy, confident and believed in what Lim had said, that he would give the estimated RM7bil project to me,” he added.

The witness said that in May 2011, he met with Lim and demanded that the project be awarded to his company as promised via direct negotiation but instead, Lim told him that he had to call for an open tender.

“I felt disappointed as Lim had made a U-turn. But he promised me that he would help me get the project by ordering his officers to give me full cooperation in this matter.

“Lim also asked that the request for proposal (RFP) be speeded up and also asked that BUCG assist his officers and Datuk Lim Hock Seng (a former state exco member) in preparing the RFP.

“Although the awarding of the project had been changed to via open tender, my company won the tender and I was grateful to Lim and Hock Seng who helped me and my company a lot in making early preparations in competing for the tender,” he said.

On his relationship with Lim, the witness said that former tourism and culture minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had introduced him to Lim around January 2011 at the Shangri-La Hotel and they exchanged phone numbers.

“At that time, I also took the opportunity to offer BUCG’s services to Lim in case there were infrastructure projects in Penang that I could participate in on behalf of BUCG.

“Lim appeared interested and said that he would be contacting me,” he recalled, adding that in February that year, he met with Lim at the latter’s office, and was briefed on the building of the roads and undersea tunnel.

Zarul Ahmad said Lim explained the project in general and said it would be financed through a land swap and not the usual payment method.

Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister at that time to receive a bribe of RM3.3mil in helping the company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office on the 28th floor of Komtar in George Town, Penang between January 2011 and August 2017.

For the second amended charge, he is alleged to have solicited from Zarul Ahmad 10 % of the profit to be gained by the company in appreciation for obtaining the project.

Lim is accused of committing this offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.

The DAP secretary-general is also facing two other charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8mil belonging to the Penang government be disposed of to two companies claimed to be connected to the undersea tunnel project.

He is charged with committing the offences at the Penang Land and Mines Department on the 21st floor of Komtar on Feb 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.

The trial before judge Azura Alwi will continue on March 23. – Bernama

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