LGE trial: RM2mil payment for Najib, witness says in court

KUALA LUMPUR: A former senior executive director of the company said a RM2mil payment linked to the Penang undersea tunnel was for former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Former senior executive director of Consortium Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG) Ibrahim Sahari told the Sessions Court in the corruption trial against former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng that the amount was to help his former superior Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, who owns CZBUCG, to get closer to Najib and get future projects.

In cross-examination by lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Ibrahim, the 29th prosecution witness recalled to the stand, confirmed that the RM2mil was part of the RM19mil involved in the previous cheating case involving Zarul Ahmad and a businessman Mr. Gnanaraja in the Shah Alam Sessions court in 2019.

Gobind: In your evidence at Shah Alam, you mentioned a request from Gnanaraja for a large sum of money from Zarul Ahmad, correct?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: How much did Gnanaraja ask in total?

Ibrahim: RM19mil.

Gobind: He said money is for a specific purpose.

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: And you get that the goal is to strengthen the relationship with the PM and get future projects.

Ibrahim: Yes.

Gobind: Who is the PM?

Ibrahim: Former prime minister Najib.

In the Shah Alam case, Gnanaraja was charged with defrauding Zarul Ahmad of RM19mil as an inducement to help the latter drop money laundering charges.

However, Gnanaraja pleaded guilty to an alternative charge under the Companies Act in December 2020 and was fined RM230,000.

The cheating case has been classified as “no further action (NFA)”.

Gobind contended that Ibrahim, along with several other prosecution witnesses lied while giving various testimonies in the Shah Alam case.

The dispute is about who received the RM2mil, which was issued and cashed using the same payment voucher and cheque, as shown in the forensic report from the Shah Alam court, which shows that there were two different versions of the statements in the two courts.

Zarul Ahmad earlier testified that the RM2mil was for Lim as a bribe after his company won the tender for the undersea tunnel project.

Ibrahim also agreed with Gobind that it was “impossible” that the RM2mil was meant for Lim, given the nature of Gnanaraja’s request.

He also agreed that Zarul Ahmad was under pressure from Gnanaraja, who was forcing Zarul Ahmad to hand over the RM19mil.

Gobind: It is impossible to give (the money) to others, due to the nature of the demand.

Ibrahim: Agreed.

Gobind: I put it to you that it is impossible that the RM2mil was paid to Lim Guan Eng. Gnanaraja wanted RM19mil, why would RM2mil be paid to someone else?

Ibrahim: Right.

This prompted deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib to file an objection, saying how the witness can give an answer on behalf of another person.

However, judge Azura Alwi allowed Gobind’s question and Ibrahim’s answer to stand.

Ibrahim also confirmed that after Zarul Ahmad realized that he had been cheated by Gnanaraja, he called for a meeting of the company’s directors before issuing a letter of demand to Gnanaraja to get the RM19mil.

He said the meeting and the court summons had nothing to do with Lim.

However, when asked if the details of the RM2mil and the Shah Alam case were important evidence for Lim’s case, Ibrahim said he was not sure.

When grilled further, Ibrahim said his action of not informing the court of the Shah Alam case was because he was not sure it was important.

“I am not familiar with the laws and evidence. I am not sure that the information should be disclosed in the Kuala Lumpur court.”

When questioned, Ibrahim also agreed that since the DPP attended the same court and handled the cases, the person should be the one to inform the court.

Gobind: But they all fell silent.

Ibrahim: I cannot comment.

Gobind: In our language, this is called suppression of evidence.

Ibrahim: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

Gobind: That is the question. You sit there and you don’t care. That’s suppression, yes?

Ibrahim: I didn’t know it was suppression.

The trial will continue on August 7.

Lim, 62, is facing an amended charge of using his position as then chief minister of Penang to demand RM3.3mil in bribes as an inducement to help Zarul Ahmad get the undersea tunnel project worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim committed the offense at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

In the second amended case, Lim is accused of demanding a bribe of 10% of the profit from the company as satisfaction to secure the project.

The offense was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here in March 2011.

Lim, who is a former DAP secretary-general, is facing two additional charges of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil, owned by the Penang government, to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.


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