‘Superior forged papers for bribes’

KUALA LUMPUR: Another former director of a construction company said his superior Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli had confessed to him about forging account documents for cash, which were then given as bribes to Lim Guan Eng.

Ibrahim Sahari, 58, a former director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC), told the Sessions Court that Zarul Ahmad had made the confession after the latter was freed from detention by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in January 2018.

Zarul Ahmad is a key witness in the former Penang chief minister’s corruption trial involving the Penang undersea tunnel project.

“However, Datuk Zarul did not tell me about the amount and how the bribes were given to Lim Guan Eng,” Ibrahim said when reading out his witness statement yesterday.

The 29th prosecution witness also admitted to corroborating in producing fake company documents to cover the withdrawal of funds, which were said to be given to Lim.

He said Zarul Ahmad had asked him and Azli Adam to use fake invoices and payment vouchers for the company to justify making payments to four other companies – Sinar Bina Consultancy Services, Bintang Ria Engineering, JKM Konsortium Sdn Bhd and Jurutera Konsult Maju Sdn Bhd.

This was to avoid problems with the auditors later, he added.

Azli, another company management member in charge of accounts, had given a similar testimony a day earlier.

“I confirm that there were payment vouchers, which were faked using the names of company directors, but were actually meant for Datuk Zarul’s withdrawals,” said Ibrahim.

“The method was through cash cheques made to Azli. Azli would then send the cash to Datuk Zarul,” he added.

Although knowing his actions were illegal, Ibrahim said he did it in the best interest of the company.

Cross-examined by Gobind Singh Deo, Ibrahim admitted that he did not personally see the bribes being paid to Lim.

Their exchange became heated when Gobind questioned how Ibrahim, once a head of compliance and supervision for the international banking division at Maybank, agreed to help falsify company documents.

Gobind: Being trained in accounting, you surely know that falsifying documents is an offence?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: Especially in forging invoices and payment vouchers. Moreover, forging a company’s accounts?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: Even though you knew it was wrong, you still did it. You knew it was a criminal offence?

Ibrahim: Yes

Gobind: So you’re saying Zarul Ahmad had ordered you and Azli to commit the offence?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: So Zarul Ahmad is a person who is willing to commit an offence?

Ibrahim: If you refer to the transactions (related to the forged documents), then I agree.

Gobind: Your statement is that you’re a fabricator.

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: In fact, Zarul Ahmad, you and Azli are master fabricators.

Ibrahim: I disagree.

Gobind: What kind of a person you are to have done this? You are a penyangak (rogue).

Ibrahim: I was only following orders ... one who does it for the interest of the company.

Gobind: I put it to you that you’re a liar.

Ibrahim: I disagree.

Gobind: But you fabricated the documents. You had never stopped Zarul Ahmad.

Ibrahim: Yes

Gobind: You didn’t know what the payments were for?

Ibrahim: Initially I didn’t know.

Gobind: You didn’t see who the money was given to or how the money was used?

Ibrahim: Yes, I agree.

Gobind: Your statement cannot be trusted because you’re willing to forge and tell lies in court.

Ibrahim: I disagree.

On Monday, Azli, who used to be in charge of the company’s accounts, had testified that Zarul Ahmad had confided in him and Ibrahim that some of the documents that Azli had fabricated under his directives were to facilitate the payment of bribes to Lim.

He said Zarul Ahmad had instructed him and Ibrahim to use the fake documents to manipulate company accounts and cover up the money trail between 2012 and 2017, where fake invoices and payment vouchers were used to make withdrawals of money from CZBUCG.

The trial before Judge Azura Alwi resumes on July 25, when the defence will cross-examine Zarul Ahmad.

Lim, 62, faces four corruption charges involving the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.

For the first amended charge, Lim is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help businessman Zarul Ahmad’s company secure the project, worth RM6,341,383,702 between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company get appointed for the same project in March 2011 near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra at Mid Valley City.

Lim is also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil owned by the Penang government to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017, at the Penang Land and Mines Office in Komtar.

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