KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 ― A key prosecution witness in the corruption trial of Lim Guan Eng testified in the Sessions Court today that he gave a luxury timepiece worth RM43,000 and RM100,000 as “birthday gifts” to the former chief minister in 2015.
Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli said the money was to “fulfil” a 2011 pledge he made to give 10 per cent of future profits on the construction of three roads and an undersea tunnel in Penang.
As for the timepiece, Zarul Ahmad told the court it was from Swiss luxury watchmaker Maurice Lacroix and black in colour.
Zarul Ahmad noted that Lim was Penang chief minister at the time.
“I brought RM100,000, which was stuffed inside a white envelope, and a black Maurice Lacroix timepiece worth RM43,000 to YB Lim Guan Eng’s office at Menara KOMTAR, George Town.
“And then I told YB Lim I brought presents for him in conjunction with his birthday. Said presents were RM100,000 inside an envelope and a timepiece inside a wrapped box,” he said in his witness statement, adding that Lim seemed happy with his gift.
However, Zarul Ahmad said Lim only accepted the timepiece and returned the white envelope containing RM100,000 to him.
Explaining further, Zarul Ahmad said his purpose of gifting the timepiece was solely to ensure the implementation of the megaproject will not be disrupted under the watch of the state government.
“YB Lim Guan Eng never asked for the watch for his birthday. It was me who gave it to him,” he said.
A total of RM3.3 million in cash was given to Lim
Continuing from his testimony a day before, Zarul Ahmad testified he gave Lim a total of RM3.3 million on several occasions from 2013 to 2017.
Previously, Zarul Ahmad testified that he gave a total of RM200,000 — part of the 10 per cent profit to be made by the company for the undersea tunnel project — on two separate occasions between August 2013 and January 2014.
Today, the witness told the court he gave Lim another RM100,000 in December 2014 as a birthday present, which fell on the 8th of the month.
On the fourth occasion, Zarul Ahmad said he gave RM100,000 the following year in December 2015 — also in conjunction with Lim’s birthday — but noted that the money was not accepted as mentioned earlier.
On the fifth occasion, Zarul Ahmad said he gave Lim a total of RM500,000 before the Chinese New Year celebrations in 2016.
During the handover of the cash kept inside a haversack, Zarul Ahmad said he did not disclose the amount to Lim, but told the latter, “This is for you, sir”.
“After I handed over the bag to YB Lim, he received the bag and placed it on the floor next to his feet. He (Lim) did not ask the contents within.
“I just told him what’s inside the bag was a gift for him,” Zarul Ahmad said.
On the sixth occasion, Zarul Ahmad said he gave another RM500,000 kept inside a haversack to Lim between April and May 2016.
All of the cash exchange from the first to sixth occasion took place at the Chief Minister's Office in Komtar, George Town.
On the seventh and eight occasions, Zarul Ahmad said he gave a total of RM2 million in August 2017.
Accordingly, the RM2 million were split into two sport bags each containing a million that were given to Lim in two separate meetings through an intermediary Zarul Ahmad had made use of after the former advised to do so to avoid scrutiny by graftbusters.
The first exchange took place at Publika, Kuala Lumpur whereas the second exchange took place at Gardens Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Zarul Ahmad conceded that if the aforementioned megaproject had not been awarded to him, he would not have given Lim the money.
Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister to receive RM3.3 million in bribes to help Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd to obtain the undersea tunnel project.
On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting bribes amounting to 10 per cent of the profits of the company from Zarul Ahmad as gratification for getting the project.
Lim, who is also Bagan MP, is also faced with two charges of causing two plots of land, worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies, which are linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.
The trial before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi resumes June 27.