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Businessman in Guan Eng graft trial says tried to get back RM19 million

Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli says his lawyers sent a letter of demand to middleman G Gnanaraja.

2 minute read
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today. Photo: Bernama

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

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

"I don’t remember the exact wording (of the LOD). The gist of the LOD was, I want my RM19 million back," he said when questioned by Lim Guan Eng’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo about whether he was aware that the words "held in trust" were contained 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 that the money was 'held in 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, the 23rd prosecution witness said he had no knowledge about the second investigation against Gnanaraja, where the middleman denied he had cheated Zarul of the RM19 million.

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 for 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 in order to open the phone during the proceedings.

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

The trial continues tomorrow.
Lim, 61, faces 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 in securing the project worth RM6,341,383,702.

Lim was accused of committing 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 to secure 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.