I was ‘prepared to pay’ to halt probe against Guan Eng, says businessman
Published on: Friday, August 05, 2022
By: FMT, Ho Kit Yen
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Consortium Zenith Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli (left) says he paid businessman G Gnanaraja, who was allegedly close to Najib Razak, to stop any investigations against Lim Guan Eng. (Bernama pic)
Kuala Lumpur: The star witness in Lim Guan Eng’s undersea tunnel corruption trial told the sessions court he was “prepared to pay” then prime minister Najib Razak to halt investigations into the former Penang chief minister’s involvement in the project.

Consortium Zenith Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli said he wanted to “protect” Lim from Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigators because he felt indebted to him for awarding the company with a RM6.3 billion project.

He said he paid a fellow businessman, G Gnanaraja, who was allegedly close to Najib, to stop the investigations.

“I felt obliged to YB (Lim). I would have done anything in my powers to stop the probe against YB,” Zarul said when cross-examined by Lim’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo.

Gnanaraja had on April 3, 2019 claimed trial at the Shah Alam sessions court to three charges of cheating Zarul of RM19 million. He was alleged to have deceived Zarul into believing that he could help him close the MACC investigations against him.

Gobind asked Zarul how he could approach Lim’s “political arch-rival”, Najib, saying his answers did not make sense.

In reply, Zarul said he was “desperate” at that time (2017) as the undersea tunnel project had come under criticism from Barisan Nasional members.

“I didn’t know Gnanaraja was a ‘con man’. He claimed he was close to the prime minister (Najib). I thought the money would go to him (Najib),” he said.

Gobind: You are now giving evidence that you would bribe someone such as the prime minister to stop a probe, thus committing an offence?

Zarul: My priority was to protect YB (Lim).

Lim is standing trial on charges of using his position as then Penang chief minister to ask Zarul for a 10% cut of the profits from the undersea tunnel project and accepting RM3.3 million in kickbacks from the businessman.

He is also accused of two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land from two companies.

‘I helped Nazri Aziz build religious schools’

Gobind asked Zarul whether he told MACC during his 11-day remand that payments were made to other individuals like Nazri Aziz, Nur Jazlan Mohamed and Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to which Zarul said “no”.

However, he said he had assisted Nazri, whom he had known for more than 20 years, when the Padang Rengas MP built schools in Thailand.

Nazri had testified in Lim’s trial last year that he received a donation from Zarul to help repair dilapidated religious schools in southern Thailand.

Gobind asked Zarul about his WhatsApp conversations with Gnanaraja revolving around the RM19 million payment.

Goibind: Can you produce that (WhatsApp) conversation?

Zarul: I don’t have a backup (of the messages). My phone was given to MACC.

Gobind requested that the prosecution produce the phone so the defence could examine it, but deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin told the court the device could not be switched on.

Gobind then told trial judge Azura Alwi the defence wanted to scrutinise the WhatsApp messages between Gnanaraja and Zarul from July 2017 to February 2018.

The prosecution said it would try its best to produce the messages at the next hearing date.

The hearing continues on Aug 8.

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