Friday, October 22, 2021

‘I love you, Dato’: Chat messages between contractor, businessman read out at Guan Eng graft trial

MACC investigating officer tells court that the messages between the Penang undersea tunnel project contractor and a businessman show no signs of them wanting to set up the former CM.

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The Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur was told today that WhatsApp conversations between Penang undersea tunnel project contractor Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and businessman G Gnanaraja bore no indication that they were out to set up Lim Guan Eng.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Forensics Technology Division investigating officer Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof, 33, said an analysis of the messages on Gnanaraja’s mobile phone did not reveal any signs of animosity between them and the former Penang chief minister.

He said this during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin in Lim’s corruption trial.

The eighth prosecution witness had earlier read out WhatsApp messages dated Aug 18, 2017, including one sent by Zarul to Gnanaraja, stating: “Superb sir, I’ll bring your chocolate. Eastin?”, to which Gnanaraja replied, “Ok Dato.”

Wan Shaharuddin: In that message, did they (Zarul and Gnanaraja) state they intended to pay Lim?

Wan Mohd Firdaus: No.

Wan Shaharuddin: There was only the word “chocolate”?

Wan Mohd Firdaus: Yes, correct.

The court also heard the chronology of a meeting between Lim, Zarul and Gnanaraja at Gnanaraja’s residence at 2am, Aug 29, 2017 before Gnanaraja asked Zarul to take several photos of him with Lim.

When cross-examined by lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who is representing Lim, the witness said the communication between Gnanaraja and Zarul showed that they were good friends.

The lawyer then asked the witness to read the messages Gnanaraja had sent to Zarul.

Wan Mohd Firdaus read out the conversation, starting with Gnanaraja’s message: “I love you, Dato. You are constantly on my mind. I will finish off anyone who disturbs you, Dato”, to which Zarul replied, “I’m so grateful sir. I will make you a star that shines bright in the cabinet.”

Gobind: Did you know that Gnanaraja was charged in court with cheating Zarul?

Wan Mohd Firdaus: I am not sure.

Lim is facing four charges involving the construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads in Penang worth RM6.3 billion. According to the first amended charge, Lim is accused of using his position as Penang chief minister to obtain a bribe of RM3.3 million as an inducement to assist Zarul’s company in securing the construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim is accused of committing the offence at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office, Level 28, Komtar, George Town, between January 2011 and August 2017.

For the second amended charge, he is accused of soliciting bribes of 10% in profits from the company as gratification to secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, between 12.30am and 2am in March 2011.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, faces 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 two offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Level 21, Komtar, on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The trial before judge Azura Alwi will resume on Nov 1.

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