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Bribes paid to Guan Eng through fake invoices from dormant companies, court hears

Former Consortium Zenith Construction senior vice-president Azli Adam says the cheques would be prepared according to company financial processes and signed by two out of four of the authorised directors.

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Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng (right) arrives at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng (right) arrives at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama

The Sessions Court was today told that bribes paid to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng were made through fake documents of two dormant companies on the orders of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

Former CZCSB senior vice-president (finance and corporate services) Azli Adam, 58, said the payments were issued using invoices and vouchers from Sinar Bina Consultancy Services (SBCS) and Bintang Ria Engineering (BRE).

“Between 2012 and 2017, several payments were issued through two company accounts, Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd. The payments were made to Zarul through cheques which he cashed himself or by me on his private instructions.

“The payments used falsified invoices and payment vouchers using both company names. Zarul issued instructions to obtain dummy invoices from several existing companies that were dormant for the purposes of using those invoices.

“Ibrahim Sahari and I looked for a middle man who could obtain such companies to procure these dummy invoices,” he said, reading his testimony at Lim’s corruption trial involving the RM6.3 billion three paired roads and undersea tunnel project in Penang.

Azli said in early 2014, he met with an acquaintance in Kuala Lumpur and sought help for introductions to people who could obtain the dummy invoices. A middle man whose name he had forgotten was mentioned.

The 28th prosecution witness said the middle man then obtained the invoices from SBCS and BRE as well as from JKM Konsortium Sdn Bhd (JKMKSB) and Jurutera Konsult Maju Sdn Bhd (JKMSB) to serve as dummy invoices for the withdrawal of funds from CZCSB.

“Zarul would issue instructions to prepare cheques for these payments. All cheques would be prepared according to company financial processes and signed by two out of four of the authorised directors,” he said.

Azli said after Zarul was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in mid-January 2018, Zarul confessed to him and Ibrahim that the payments using the falsified invoices that he had instructed were bribe payments to Lim.

“His confession was a turning point that convinced me that those payments were indeed made because between 2012 and 2017, Zarul ordered Ibrahim and I to use both documents to manipulate company accounts and cover the money trail.

“I confirm that whatever payment issued in invoices and payment vouchers of SBCS and BRE were fake payments and the details of the description for the Penang road and tunnel project are illegal and were not implemented,” he said.

When cross-examined by Lim’s counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, Azli said he never met Lim personally, only during a Hari Raya event in Penang.

He also confirmed that the descriptions in the invoices and payment vouchers were ordered by Zarul and although fake, that the tunnel project was the only active project awarded to CZCSB by the Penang government led by Lim at that time.

Azli however said that SBCS and BRE were unrelated and had no contracts with CZCSB. He said he had bought and paid for the dummy invoices obtained from both companies by the middleman.

“I don’t know who owned the companies. What I wanted was those invoices. As I remember, the payment to obtain those dummy invoices was around RM10,000 to RM15,000 each time. I paid the middle man for the invoices in cash,” he said.

On the invoices obtained from JKMKSB, the witness said he only knew that the company was owned by Lee and Shukri, who were CZCSB consultants, and he was informed by Zarul that Zarul was in control of the company.

When asked by Gobind whether he knew that the preparation of the fake documents was a crime, and that he was only following Zarul’s instructions, Azli replied, “Yes.”

Lim, 61, faces amended charges of using his position as Penang chief minister to solicit RM3.3 million in bribes as an inducement to assist CZBUCG owner, Zarul, to secure the project worth RM6,341,383,702.

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

In the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting a bribe of 10% of the profit from the company as gratification for securing the project.

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

Lim, the former DAP secretary-general, also 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.