Guan Eng corruption trial: Umno’s Nazri Aziz to testify as prosecution witness

KUALA LUMPUR : Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz will take the stand as a prosecution witness in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial in November, the Sessions Court heard today (Sept 24).

Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharudin Wan Ladin, when deliberating future trial dates, told judge Azura Alwi how the Umno lawmaker would be testifying a day after Deepavali on November 5.

This was pointed out after defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo had requested guidance from the court on whether the trial would continue a day after the Deepavali celebrations.

“We would like to maintain the 5th of November because we have prepared for a witness, someone who sometimes will be overseas, who is YB Nazri Aziz.

“He has made arrangements to come on the 5th only, and this arrangement was made earlier,” Wan Shaharudin said in court.

Nazri’s connection with the trial or charges brought against Lim’s trial however remains unclear.

In this trial, Lim faces four charges, one under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act for having allegedly solicited kickbacks of 10 per cent of future profits from Consortium Zenith-Beijing Urban Construction Group(BUCG) managing director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

The kickback was allegedly reward for helping Zarul’s company secure the project for the undersea tunnel and three major roads in Penang in March 2011, as the Penang chief minister then .

Lim is also facing a charge under Section 23(1) of the same Act for allegedly receiving RM3.3 million in kickbacks from Zarul between January 2011 and October 2017 for allegedly helping the latter’s company secure the mega project.

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex September 24, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex September 24, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Earlier during proceedings, Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission’s (MACC) technological forensics investigator Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof, 33, testified as the eighth prosecution witness.

Mohd Firdaus’ testimony touched mainly on text messages exchanged between Zarul, and one Datuk Seri G. Gnanaraja, which were extracted from the latter’s Sony Xperia smartphone during an analysis done on the device in August 2020.

Among the points highlighted in court was how the chats suggested close camaraderie shared between the two men, with affectionate messages sent to one another. One of them even included Gnanaraja declaring his apparent love for Zarul.

“I love you Dato. You are constantly on my mind. I’ll finish off any who disturbs you Dato,” read a message sent by Gnanaraja.

“I’m so grateful sir. I’ll make you a star that shines bright in the cabinet,” read Zarul’s response.

Also within the chats were conversations of arrangements being made between Zarul and Gnanaraja about Lim visiting the latter’s home in Selangor.

Gnanaraja’s wife, G. Geethanjali was the first prosecution witness in this trial, where she testified about an impromptu meeting between her husband, Zarul, and Lim at her home in Petaling Jaya sometime in 2017.

She had testified how she and her mother were woken up by Gnanaraja that night to welcome Lim who arrived at around 2am, and was accompanied by Zarul who also took several photographs during the visit.

Chats between Zarul and Gnanaraja produced in court today also spoke about a visit Lim made to Gnanaraja’s house in the wee hours of August 29, 2017, consistent with Geethanjali’s previous testimony.

However, Wan Firdaus during examination in chief under Wan Shaharudin agreed that the chats between Zarul and Gnanaraja did not contain any messages that could be deemed as malice in nature, and did not suggest intentions of them conspiring against Lim.

The MACC official also agreed with the DPP that the chats did not mention or suggest money or cash being obtained or given to Lim.

Earlier, seventh prosecution witness, WCT Bhd general manager Ooi Tok Thian, reiterated his previous testimony that BUCG enjoyed an unfair advantage in vying for the mega project’s tender.

Ooi maintained that BUCG having earlier knowledge of the scope of the mega project and their prior involvement with the state government through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2011 placed them at an advantage over rival companies.

The trial before Azura continues on November 1.

By : EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN – MALAY MAIL

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