In corruption trial, former company VP tells court how higher-up ‘confessed’ of bribes for Guan Eng

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — A former company vice president told the Sessions Court today Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, who is implicated in the corruption trial of Lim Guan Eng, had “confessed” that bribes were paid to the former chief minister in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Testifying against Lim as the 28th prosecution witness, Azli Adam said Zarul Ahmad had made the purported confession after the latter was remanded by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) around January 2018 over its probe into the case.

At the material time, Azli was senior vice president of finance and corporate service in Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) and in charge of managing the company accounts including the preparation of payment vouchers, cheques and invoices.

Zarul Ahmad was one of the directors of CZCSB at the time as well and had previously testified he gave Lim a total of RM3.3 million on several occasions from 2013 to 2017.

Azli said forged documents, called “dummies”, were used to disguise cash payments made by the company to its true recipient and intended purpose.

“After the arrest made on Datuk Zarul by MACC around January 2018, he made a confession to me and Ibrahim Sahari (Azli’s superior) that the payments in relation to his instructions to falsify both payment vouchers and invoices before this were for bribes paid to Lim Guan Eng.

“His confession to me was the turning point, convincing me that said payments were indeed made from 2012 to 2017 after Datuk Zarul had instructed me and Ibrahim to use the ‘dummy’ invoices and payment vouchers to manipulate the company’s account and cover the cash payments tracks made by him,” he said in his witness statement.

According to Azli, the forgeries involving the payment vouchers and invoices were issued under two relatively inactive companies: Sinar Bina Consultancy Services (SBCS) and Bintang Ria Engineering (BRE).

“Me and Ibrahim Sahari then went on to look for intermediaries to reach out to companies in order to obtain ‘dummies’ invoices.

“Early 2014, I met with a friend of mine in KL where I had asked for his help to introduce anyone who could procure said ‘dummy’ invoices,” he said.

It was through this intermediary that Azli later said dummy invoices from SBCS and BRE were obtained.

“I can confirm that whatever payments made on invoices and payment vouchers to SBCS and BRE were fake payments and the attached details for the Penang road and tunnel project are unverified and never executed.

“I confirm that the withdrawals using invoices and payment vouchers from SBCS and BRE are actually withdrawals to Datuk Zarul for debt repayment and I believe the monies were taken out by Datuk Zarul for giving out bribes,” Azli added.

Azli also confessed that both SBCS and BRE had nothing to do with the undersea tunnel project, further asserting that the “dummies” were purchased through an intermediary whose ownership of the companies were unknown.

He also said he paid between RM10,000 and RM15,000 in one single transaction to obtain the “dummies”.

Apart from SBCS and BRE, “dummy” invoices from two more companies — JKM Konsortium Sdn Bhd (JKMKSB) and Jurutera Konsult Maju Sdn Bhd (JKMSB) — were also used to make cash withdrawals for CZCSB.

Azli also told the court he merely used said invoices for financial record purposes to avoid issues with auditors.

Later under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, Azli affirmed that the preparation of invoice and payment voucher “dummies” were on the instructions of Zarul Ahmad and he had never taken the initiative to ask the latter about the cash withdrawal purposes.

Azli also agreed to a suggestion by the lawyer that forging financial documents was a criminal offence, which he had continued to commit under orders.

However, the witness disagreed with Gobind’s suggestion that he was “very” capable of fabricating evidence and an untrustworthy on the witness stand.

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 was accused of soliciting bribes amounting to 10 per cent of the profits of the company from businessman Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli as gratification for getting the project.

Lim, who is also former DAP secretary-general, 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. —