I tried to get my RM19 million back, says witness in Guan Eng trial

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Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is facing four charges involving the Penang undersea tunnel project, which was worth more than RM6.3 billion. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 9, 2022.

A COMPANY director told the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today that he tried to retrieve the RM19 million that was given to a middleman allegedly close to former prime minister Najib Razak to stop the investigation into the controversial Penang undersea tunnel project.

Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, 62, said he sent a letter of demand (LOD) to the middleman, known as G. Gnanaraja, through his lawyers from Messrs Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq to get his money back.

“I don’t remember the exact wording (in the LOD). The gist of the LOD is, I want my RM19 million back,” he said when questioned by Lim Guan Eng’s counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, whether he was aware that the words “held on trust” were written in the LOD.

Gobind: In order to get your money back, you must explain why it was with him (Gnanaraja) in the first place. You instructed your lawyers to send the LOD. In the LOD, it was written the money was “held on trust”.

Zarul: I gave the money to Gnanaraja, supposedly to be given to the prime minister. You (Gobind) have to ask my lawyer. I just told my lawyer to get my money back. I have no idea how my lawyer worded the LOD.

To another question by the lawyer, the 23rd prosecution witness said he had no knowledge about the second investigation against Gnanaraja, where the middleman denied he cheated Zarul of the RM19 million.

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Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin told the court that the prosecution was unable to produce the WhatsApp messages between the witness and Gnanaraja, as requested by the defence, as the investigation papers regarding Gnanaraja’s case had been shredded.

Gobind then requested the phone containing the WhatsApp messages to be opened in court.

Judge Azura Alwi granted the lawyer’s request and said the court would set a later date to call the forensic team to open the message in the phone during the proceedings.

Today’s proceedings were cut short after the witness complained that he was not well as he suffered from hypertension and heart palpitations and was asked by his doctor to see a specialist about his condition. 

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 owner Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to secure the project worth more than RM6.3 billion.

Lim is alleged to have committed the offence at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

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