KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — A key prosecution witness in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial told the Sessions Court today businessman G. Gnanaraja, who was allegedly close to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had threatened him with criminal prosecution over his involvement in the Penang undersea tunnel project.
Under cross-examination as the 23rd prosecution witness, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli disclosed receiving such threats from Gnanaraja through the instant messaging application, WhatsApp.
Defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo had earlier questioned Zarul Ahmad on, among others, the purported conversation exchange he had with Gnanaraja between May 2017 and January 2018.
Previously, Zarul Ahmad told the court he had paid a sum of RM19 million to conmen who claimed to be the “powers that be” in exchange for dropping graft investigations against his company in relation to the undersea tunnel project.
Gnanaraja was named by Zarul Ahmad as one of the conmen.
Gobind: Are you aware of the fact that you received a WhatsApp message from Gnanaraja in which you were threatened with AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act) proceedings?
Zarul Ahmad: Ya.
Gobind: Do you remember what the WhatsApp message said?
Zarul Ahmad: My name and identification number.
Gobind: And what did he say, that you will be charged?
Zarul Ahmad: Yes.
Gobind: And that is why you made the payments, yes or no?
Zarul Ahmad: Ya.
When Gobind later asked if the criminal charges would have affected the firm had they materialised, Zarul Ahmad said yes.
Zarul Ahmad later disagreed with the defence that it was the only reason for him doing so but did not specify his other reasons.
In court today, Zarul Ahmad also said investigations against Gnanaraja commenced immediately following a complaint he had lodged during his 11-day remand by the MACC in January 2018.
Gnanaraja — who was introduced to Zarul Ahmad by former minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz — has since been charged with cheating Zarul Ahmad and had his state award bearing the title “Datuk” revoked by the Pahang Palace in 2019.
Gnanaraja is accused of deceiving Zarul Ahmad into paying him RM19 million between July and August 2017 in exchange for using his connections to help settle an ongoing Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the company, which was the main contractor for the RM6.34 billion undersea tunnel project.
Lim is facing an amended charge of using his position as Penang chief minister back then to receive a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping the company owned by Zarul Ahmad to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office on the 28th floor of Komtar, George Town between January 2011 and August 2017.
For the second amended charge, Lim is alleged to have solicited from Zarul Ahmad 10 per cent of the profit to be gained by the company in appreciation of obtaining the project.
Lim is accused of committing this offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur, in March 2011.
The DAP politician, who is both Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman, is also facing two other charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies claimed to be connected to the undersea tunnel project.
He is charged with committing the offences at the Penang Land and Mines Department on the 21st floor of Komtar on February 17, 2015 and March 22, 2017.