• Ibrahim Sahari, 59, said fellow former senior director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told him that said money was paid to ensure that CZCSB secured future projects.
  • He said this when responding to questions from Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo during cross-examination.

KUALA LUMPUR (July 21): A former director of Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZCSB) told the Sessions Court on Friday (July 21) that it was impossible for a RM2 million payment to have made its way to Lim Guan Eng (pictured), when he had been initially told it was paid via businessman G Gnanaraja to then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in order for the company to maintain close ties with Najib.

Ibrahim Sahari, 59, said fellow former senior director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli told him that said money was paid to ensure that CZCSB secured future projects.

He said this when responding to questions from Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo during cross-examination.

Ibrahim, who is the 29th prosecution witness, said the RM2 million was part of the RM19 million paid to Gnanaraja.

He previously testified in Gnanaraja’s cheating case in Shah Alam in 2019, and last year, and then on Friday in Lim’s undersea tunnel graft case.

He agreed with Gobind that in his 2019 testimony at the Shah Alam court, he told the court then that Zarul was under pressure from Gnanaraja to make a payment totalling RM19 million that had been earmarked for Najib.

Gobind: So Zarul Ahmad wants this money to be paid for this purpose as the PM was involved in the entire payment?

Ibrahim: I agree.

Gobind: So it is impossible for the RM2 million as alleged here is to be paid to Lim?

Ibrahim: I agree.

Gobind: Did Zarul Ahmad say the money to be paid to Gnanaraja is for a certain purpose?

Ibrahim: Yes, it is to maintain close ties with the PM in order for the company to obtain projects.

Gobind: Who was the PM at that time?

Ibrahim: It was Datuk Seri Najib (Razak).

Gobind: This has nothing to do with Lim right?

Ibrahim: Yes.

Earlier, Ibrahim and Gobind engaged in a series of exchanges over his testimony in Lim’s and also Gnanaraja’s trial on the RM2 million payment.

Gobind: Isn't it an important aspect (what you tell in the Shah Alam court, you tell it again here)?

Ibrahim: I don’t know.

Gobind: Isn’t this something which the prosecution should have done but they just chose to keep quiet?

Ibrahim: I do not know what to comment.

The defence has been harping that the prosecution had resorted to suppression of evidence by not revealing what had transpired at the Shah Alam court, which only involved Gnanaraja’s cheating case.

It also averred that the same cheque which was cashed for RM2 million was similarly used in Lim’s trial here.

Gnanaraja was charged with cheating Zarul of RM19 million in relation to the undersea tunnel project, as this was so that Gnanaraja could help close a Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission probe against Zarul over 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 a company’s property with a value of RM11.42 million to obtain direct profit for himself, without seeking approval in a company’s shareholder meeting.

Zarul informed CZCSB board of being cheated by Gnanaraja

Ibrahim agreed with Gobind that he had testified at the Shah Alam court about Zarul informing the CZCSB board of being cheated by Gnanaraja.

“I remember that Zarul Ahmad told the board that he felt cheated by Gnanaraja and the company had instructed its lawyers to issue a letter of demand to recover the RM19 million,” he said, adding that he was present at the meeting.

The company subsequently sued Gnanaraja to recover the RM19 million. However, it remains unknown what transpired with the suit.

Ibrahim said he cannot comment that his conflicting testimony in Gnanaraja’s Shah Alam case in 2019 and Lim’s undersea tunnel graft case have exonerated the former Penang chief minister.

This follows Gobind positing that the RM2 million money in question was not given to Lim as suggested by the prosecution and made its way to Gnanaraja as he had testified in Shah Alam.

“I cannot comment on that,” Ibrahim said.

Lim is facing trial for using his position as the then Penang chief minister to solicit a 10% cut in the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel project’s profits from Zarul, 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 Court judge Azura Alwi resumes on August 7.

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