(Updated)

Lim given RM100,000 cash and RM43,000 luxury watch as birthday gifts, court told

Lim Guan Eng (Photo by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge)

Lim Guan Eng (Photo by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 24): Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told the Sessions Court on Friday (June 24) that he gave former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng RM100,000 cash and a RM43,000 luxury watch for the latter's birthdays in 2014 and 2015.

In Friday's proceedings of Lim's undersea tunnel project graft trial, Zarul told the court that he had given the then Penang chief minister an envelope filled with RM100,000 cash as a gift for Lim's birthday in 2014, and a black Maurice Lacroix wristwatch worth RM43,000 for his birthday in 2015.

Zarul said that around December 2014, he celebrated Lim's birthday — Dec 8 — by giving the latter an envelope which contained RM100,000 cash when the pair were at the then Penang chief minister's office.

"Around December 2014, I celebrated Lim's birthday by giving RM100,000 in cash to him at his office on the 28th floor of Komtar. I went there alone after making an appointment with the chief minister's office.

"As soon as I arrived, I was invited in by Lim [into his office]. I brought the RM100,000 in cash which was placed in a white envelope and I handed over the white envelope to him. Then Lim received the white envelope containing the RM100,000 from me after I handed it to him.

"Lim did not ask what the content was. He also did not refuse it. Lim looked happy after receiving the envelope from me," he testified.

Zarul noted that the RM100,000 he gave to Lim was part of the “bribe money” or 10% profit cut in the Penang undersea tunnel project he promised to give Lim for aiding Beijing Urban Construction Group’s (BUCG) special-purpose vehicle for the project, Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG), secure the undersea tunnel project.

Meanwhile, a similar instance occurred again in the following year, as Zarul said that in December 2015, he prepared another RM100,000 cash-filled envelope as well as a RM43,000 black Maurice Lacroix wristwatch as gifts for Lim's birthday.

However, he noted that while Lim accepted the RM43,000 wristwatch, the politician handed back the cash-filled envelope.

"I brought RM100,000 cash which was in a white envelope and a black Maurice Lacroix wristwatch worth RM43,000 to Lim's office on the 28th floor of Komtar. I told Lim that I had brought a gift for him in conjunction with his birthday.

"I handed over the [white envelope filled with] RM100,000 and the black wristwatch, after which, Lim handed the white envelope back to me. Only the Maurice Lacroix wristwatch was received by him. He appeared happy to receive the watch from me," he said.

Zarul noted that he "did not feel anything" when Lim rejected the RM100,000, as the undersea tunnel project at that time was still far from complete — which was only at the feasibility study phase at the time.

"It would have been unreasonable for me to pay the entire 10% [of the cut in profit] to Lim because the project was still far from completion," he added.

The trial is slated to continue on Monday (June 27) before Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi.

Lim faces two counts of dishonest misappropriation of property by releasing two plots of state–owned land to the two companies — namely Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd.

He is also accused of soliciting a 10% cut in profit from the undersea tunnel project from Zarul, who is a director of CZBUCG.

This allegedly occurred at a hotel here to aid CZBUCG in securing the undersea tunnel project. The businessman had allegedly given Lim RM3.3 million in kickbacks, according to charges levied against the politician.

Surin Murugiah