KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — The defence in former chief minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption case over the Penang undersea tunnel project today claimed three prosecution witnesses had given “untruthful” evidence linked to the ongoing trial in another concluded court case.
Defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo told the Session Court how the three witnesses — namely Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and his two colleagues, Ibrahim Sahari and Azli Adam — had provided court testimonies exonerating Lim over the receiving of RM2 million in bribes.
Gobind said the three witnesses had been called to testify in the Shah Alam Sessions Court over a RM19 million cheating case against businessman Datuk Seri G. Gnanaraja.
Gnanaraja was charged with allegedly deceiving Zarul Ahmad into believing that he could help the latter close the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation against Zarul Ahmad, linked to the same undersea project.
Gobind had earlier asked the court if he could play two recordings of video testimonies of the witnesses in Shah Alam, further noting that a WhatsApp conversation between Gnanaraja and Zarul Ahmad will also show clear evidence of witnesses lying in court.
“In the Shah Alam case, they gave different evidence. They are saying the ‘chocolate’ in this case is meant for Lim Guan Eng but they said it was not meant for Lim Guan Eng in Shah Alam,” Gobind said.
Previously, Zarul Ahmad testified how terms such as ‘chocolate’ were used to refer to the cash bribes allegedly given to Lim and how a total of RM2 million were given to Gnanaraja for safekeeping during a meeting at Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya in August 2017.
Checks on the MACC website found that Gnanaraja was imposed a fine of RM230,000 over a charge under Section 218 (1)(A) of the Companies Act 2016, on December 23, 2020.
It was understood that the charge under the Companies Act was an alternative charge that the businessperson pleaded guilty to instead of the cheating charges.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin stood in response to object Gobind’s request, further arguing the defence was attempting to discredit the aforementioned three witnesses since they were absent from court.
Wan Shaharuddin also objected to the defence’s attempt to obtain court affidavits prepared for the Shah Alam case, which contained a WhatsApp conversation between Zarul Ahmad and Gnanaraja.
He stressed the WhatsApp conversation was not relevant to the present case against Lim, which led to Gobind launching a tirade against the prosecution for attempting to delay the trial over their refusal to produce the document despite a court order issued in September last year.
“But Yang Arif, what is most startling is my learned friend’s response for us to make an application. But why should we make an application when there is an order?
“There is no need for an application because there is an existing court order. I am asking directions from the court and yet they refused to give it to us,” Gobind said.
Wan Shaharuddin replied that a formal application was still necessary since the document sought is not part of the ongoing trial and that the burden is on the defence to show its relevance.
Earlier, MACC forensics department investigation officer Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof, was recalled for cross-examination by the defence over the veracity of the WhatsApp conversation between Zarul Ahmad and Gnanaraja.
Wan Mohd Firdaus, who is also the eighth prosecution witness, however said he is not aware of the content of the WhatsApp conversation between Zarul Ahmad and Gnanaraja which allegedly exonerated Lim since the conversation exchange was not produced in entirety during the ongoing trial.
Lim, 61, is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister to solicit RM3.3 million in bribes as an inducement to assist Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG) owner, Zarul Ahmad, to secure the project worth RM6,341,383,702.
In the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe of 10 per cent of the profit from the company as gratification to secure the project.
Lim, who is the former DAP secretary-general, faced another two charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government, to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.
The trial resumes tomorrow.