• Azli Adam, 58, said the conversation took place at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya in January 2018, in the interrogation room.

KUALA LUMPUR (July 20): A former senior vice-president of Finance and Corporate Services of Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZBUCG) told the Sessions Court on Thursday (July 20) that former senior director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told him and another former director of the company that Zarul had bribed former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Azli Adam, 58, said the conversation took place at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya in January 2018, in the interrogation room.

The former senior VP said that at the time, Zarul, former director Ibrahim Sahari and Azli were in the same room but none of the MACC officers was present. Azli said Zarul was then under remand and that he (Azli) was called in as a witness. It was then that Zarul informed them of the purported bribes given to Lim.

However, Azli agreed, when cross-examined by defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo, that he had also testified in another case in Shah Alam in November 2019 where businessman G Gnanaraja was accused of cheating Zarul.

On Thursday, Azli, the 28th prosecution witness in Lim’s undersea tunnel graft trial, also told the court that a Public Bank cheque amounting to RM2 million by CZBUCG dated Aug 17, 2017, which was tendered in this trial, was the same cheque referred to as the purported payment in the Gnanaraja trial.

The witness said he prepared the payment voucher and cheque to be signed, and on instructions from Zarul, Azli had on Aug 18, 2017, gone to the Public Bank Mont Kiara branch to withdraw the RM2 million cash, after which Azli placed the money in two bags and gave the bags to Zarul.

Azli said when he was quizzed in 2018, investigations were centred on Gnanaraja, who is alleged to have cheated Zarul in seeking RM19 million in a bid to close investigations against Zarul.

Gobind: You attended the Gnanaraja hearing as a witness?

Azli: Yes.

Gobind: There you gave evidence against Gnanaraja, where the RM2 million (from the cheque) is part of the money?

Azli: Yes.

When shown a court clip of the Shah Alam proceedings, Azli agreed that it was him on the witness stand and Gnanaraja was in the accused dock.

Asked by Gobind whether there was a deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in the Gnanaraja case who is also a DPP in Lim’s graft case, Azli replied he could not remember.

On Tuesday, Gobind wanted to have Nik Haslinie Nik Hashim removed from the trial as she was the DPP in Gnanaraja’s case. Gobind accused the prosecution of suppression of evidence in Lim’s graft case but judge Azura Alwi asked the defence to make a proper formal application.

Defence alleges suppression of evidence by prosecution

Gnanaraja was charged with cheating Zarul of RM19 million in relation to the undersea tunnel project, for his help in getting the MACC to close a probe against Zarul in relation to the project.

However, Gnanaraja was found guilty by the Shah Alam Sessions Court under an alternative charge under the Companies Act 2016, and fined RM230,000 for using company property valued at RM11.42 million to obtain direct profit for himself, without obtaining shareholders' approval.

Gobind then suggested that the prosecution was trying to suppress evidence from Gnanaraja’s trial in Lim’s trial, as he contended: wasn’t it important for Azli to tell the KL court that he had testified in the Shah Alam court over the same cheque referred to in the trial?

“However, I was not asked this question (here by the prosecution),” Azli replied.

Gobind: But the DPP knew.

Azli: Yes.

Gobind: They should have asked you because it is important for the truth?

Azli: Yes.

Gobind: This is suppression of evidence by the prosecution?

Azli: I do not know.

The witness agreed after viewing the Shah Alam court recordings that Nik Haslinie was the DPP in the Shah Alam trial and also in this (Lim) proceeding.

However, Azli maintained that he was called in Lim’s trial merely to verify the RM2 million.

Azli further denied that he made a 180-degree turn in his testimony by now pinning the payment on Lim.

Gobind: I put it to you that Zarul Ahmad lied squarely to you about the RM2 million amount that you withdrew was to be given to Guan Eng?

Azli: I do not know.

The witness maintained that Ibrahim was there to hear what Zarul had claimed about bribing Lim, and that the matter can be verified further by Zarul.

In his testimony last year, Azli said there were payments made to Lim, but when cross-examined by Gobind on Thursday, he could not verify whether actual money was given to the DAP politician.

Prior to this, Zarul had testified in this trial but he has yet to be fully cross-examined.

Azli, when re-examined by DPPs Datuk Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin and Mohd Mukhzani Faiz Mokhtar, said he did not know where the RM2 million went after he handed the money to Zarul.

Wan Shaharuddin: You cannot verify whether the money went to Lim or Gnanraraja?

Azli: No, only Zarul Ahmad may know.

Wan Shaharuddin: When asked by DPP Nik Haslinie in the Shah Alam trial, were you asked to tell a lie in that court?

Azli: No.

Mukhzani: Did anywhere during this case or in Gnanaraja’s case, did the MACC or the prosecution or Zarul Ahmad tell you what to testify in court?

Azli: No.

Lim is facing trial for using his position as the then Penang chief minister to solicit from Zarul a 10% cut in profits from the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project, in return for aiding Zarul's company to secure the project. Lim is accused of accepting RM3.3 million in kickbacks from the director.

The Bagan Member of Parliament also faces two counts of dishonest misappropriation of property in releasing two plots of state-owned land, cumulatively worth RM208.75 million, to Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd — two property companies linked to the controversial undersea tunnel project.

The trial before Sessions judge Azura Alwi resumes Friday (July 21).

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