Guan Eng accepted cash-filled envelopes 'with a smile', says witness

KUALA LUMPUR: There were two occasions when envelopes, each containing RM100,000 in cash, were handed to Lim Guan Eng, which he accepted "with a smile", the Sessions Court here heard on Thursday (June 23).

Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (ZCSB) senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told the court that the former Penang chief minister smiled when he was handed RM100,000 cash in an envelope in 2013 as a bribe for the Penang undersea tunnel project.

ALSO READ: Guan Eng trial: Now-deceased witness was calm when recording statement, says MACC officer

He said Lim did not say anything but seemed happy when he was given another envelope containing RM100,000 in 2014.

The 23rd prosecution witness, who was testifying in Lim’s corruption trial related to the project, said both occasions were at the former chief minister's office at Komtar in Penang.

Reading out his witness statement before judge Azura Alwi, Zarul Ahmad said he arranged a meeting with Lim in August 2013 for a progress report on the project and also to seek advice on its direction.

"After getting the date and time, which was around 11am to noon, I prepared RM100,000 in an A4-size envelope and put it in my laptop bag.

"Following my discussion with YB Lim at Komtar's 28th floor, I took out the envelope containing the money and gave it to him.

"I did not tell him how much was inside and I only said, 'This is for you, Sir.'

"He took the envelope, which he was certain contained money. He just smiled when accepting the envelope," he said, adding that he then left the office.

Zarul Ahmad said the money was a "milestone payment" from his company.

As for the second sum of RM100,000 allegedly handed to Lim in 2014, he said it was issued as a payment voucher from another of his companies.

"When it was nearing Chinese New Year that year, I went to YB Lim's office again.

"I was alone. It was about 5pm and (no one else) was around. I brought with me RM100,000 in a white envelope.

"Before handing it to him, I was talking about the project's progress and feasibility studies.

"Then I handed the envelope to him. He did not ask what was inside and did not refuse it," he said, adding that he was in Lim's room only for a while.

"YB appeared happy after receiving the envelope from me," he added.

Zarul Ahmad noted that he felt indebted to Lim for getting the mega project and never had any malicious intent towards him.

"The award of the project by the Penang state government headed by YB Lim elevated me as a successful bumiputra businessman," he added.

Zarul Ahmad said although he realised that the act of promising a percentage of the project profits as a bribe was an offence, he felt convinced that anyone in his shoes would feel similarly indebted and want to return the favour.

"I also know that asking for any payback or payment in relation to the project is an offence.

"All this is corruption and an offence under the law," he said.

When examined by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Zarul Ahmad said the money was given to Lim as bribes after the Bagan MP had purportedly asked for 10% of the profit from the project that would be awarded to ZCSB through direct negotiation.

On Dec 17 last year, Zarul Ahmad testified that he was "shocked" when Lim allegedly asked for 10% of future profits from the project.

He claimed that Lim had made the request when they were in a car in Kuala Lumpur in March 2011.

Earlier, the 11th prosecution witness, former Penang legal adviser Datuk Faiza Zulkifli, was recalled for continued cross-examination by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo about the preliminary agreement for the privatisation of the major roads and the tunnel project.

Faiza disagreed with Gobind, who claimed that she had lied about not knowing the contents of the agreement in detail.

She said the state, other than having its exco committee for oversight, had also appointed a private legal firm to handle the project.

"Furthermore, the agreement was not given to my office," she said, adding that otherwise, she would have had the opportunity to study it in detail.

The trial resumes on Friday (June 24) with Zarul Ahmad to continue reading his witness statement.

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