KUALA LUMPUR: A key witness in the Lim Guan Eng corruption trial over the Penang undersea tunnel project falsified account documents to facilitate cash withdrawals which were then paid to Lim as bribes, the Sessions Court heard.
Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli had confessed to the misdeed to his company’s management colleague, who helped him with the accounts and documents.Azli Adam, 58, a former senior president in finance and corporate services for Consortium Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG), testified that Zarul Ahmad had confided in him that some of the documents Azli fabricated under his orders were to facilitate payments of bribes to the former Penang chief minister.
“After he was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in January 2018, he made several confessions to me and also to Ibrahim Sahari (another senior executive director of CZBUCG),” he said.
Azli, the 28th prosecution witness, said Zarul Ahmad had directed him to get a third party for a false letterhead and accounting documents of four companies – Sinar Bina Consultancy Services (SBCS), Bintang Ria Engineering (BRE), JKM Consortium Sdn Bhd and Jurutera Konsult Maju Sdn Bhd.
He said the falsifications took place between 2012 and 2017, with fake invoices and payment vouchers being used to make withdrawals of money from CZBUCG.
“I confirm that Zarul Ahmad informed me about the payment of bribes to Lim Guan Eng, part of it originating from money cashed out using invoices and PV (payment vouchers) of SBCS and BRE based on the modus operandi of document falsification,” he said.
During examination-in-chief by DPP Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar, Azli said Zarul Ahmad’s confession was “a turning point”, convincing him that the payments were made.
“Zarul Ahmad instructed Ibrahim Sahari and me to use the fake documents to manipulate company accounts and cover up the money trail.
“I confirm that the payment for the invoices to SBCS and BRE were falsified payments, and the payment details were not valid and not implemented,” he said.
During cross-examination by Gobind Singh Deo, Azli admitted he did not witness the alleged payments to Lim and had only heard about them from Zarul Ahmad.
Gobind: You know that falsifying fake company account documents is an offence under the law?
Gobind: You know that preparing a fake account for a company is an offence?
Gobind: Even though you knew, you still followed Zarul Ahmad’s orders?
Azli: Yes.Gobind: Even though it opens you up to possible criminal charges?Azli: Yes.
Gobind: I put it to you that you are not a person who can be believed.
Azli: I disagree.
Gobind: You are very capable of fabricating evidence. You knew it’s wrong, it’s a criminal offence and yet you did it.
Azli: No, I don’t agree.
Zarul Ahmad, who was supposed to be cross-examined, was absent due to sickness.
“He called to say he was not feeling well. He has recently recovered from stage one pancreatic cancer. He has been given a medical certificate until June 29,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.
Before the day’s hearing began, judge Azura Alwi reprimanded Lim for making sub judice statements about his ongoing corruption trial outside the court.
She said she was disappointed as a similar situation had happened before during the beginning of the trial in 2020.
“All parties should not issue any sub judice statement. You have full knowledge of that.
“All parties are mature and this is not the first time we face a trial in court, this is not something new or alien to any of you. I am disappointed that this still happens,” she said.
“I hope this doesn’t happen again and you don’t take things lightly. You know this is a public interest case, so don’t do what’s not supposed to be done,” she added.
On Saturday, a police report was lodged against Lim for making comments about his ongoing trial.
Lim had reportedly said the testimony of a witness in his trial was made up and was part of a political conspiracy.
Gobind then stood up and apologised on Lim’s behalf.
“We stand by the guidance and we apologise for the inconvenience caused,” he said.
The trial continues today, with Ibrahim expected to take the witness stand.