KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli said he was willing to protect Lim Guan Eng to the extent of bribing the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stop a probe on the controversial Penang undersea tunnel project.
Zarul who is the owner of a company that was given the RM6.34 billion project today revealed that he gave RM22 million bribe to Najib through a middleman known as Gnanaraja to stop the anti-graft body from investigating the project.
However, Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo argued that the Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (ZCSB) director lied about his intention to protect the former Penang chief minister as the payment was made for his own benefit.
Gobind also suggested that Zarul was prepared to lie to protect himself from being prosecuted, including giving an untrue press statement in 2018 where he said there were no elements of corruption in the project as it was all done above board.
Gobind: You are a person who is prepared to lie to protect yourself
Zarul: I disagree.
Gobind: Your evidence in court yesterday that you lied in order to protect Lim is untrue.
Zarul: I was asked to make the statement. Why do I need to bite the hand which feeds me? I am obligated.
Gobind: In order not to bite the hand which feeds you, you lied.
Zarul: I was instructed to do so. To make the statement.
Earlier, Zarul said he was indebted to Lim who had awarded the RM6.34 billion project to him when the latter was then the state chief minister.
Gobind then shifted his line of questioning to the RM22 million payment that Zarul made to Ganaraja purportedly to be given to Najib.
Gnanaraja, who is well known as Datuk Seri G or DSG, has since been charged with cheating Zarul and also had his title revoked by the Pahang Palace in 2019.
The 38-year-old has claimed trial to three counts of cheating Zarul in relation to the tunnel project.
Gobind questioned Zarul on why the 63-year-old entrepreneur had to pay Najib a large sum of money to protect Lim who is from the opposition party.
Gobind: Najib was prime minister and head of BN at that time.
Gobind: And Lim was in the opposition party which led the Penang state government.
Gobind: You go and pay their (BN) boss to protect Lim?
Gobind: You were prepared to bribe the prime minister?
Zarul: To protect Lim. Yes.
Gobind: That is absolute rubbish. It is impossible that you paid Najib to protect Lim. The evidence is not true. If you want to protect someone, you will not pay their arch enemy.
Zarul: It made sense to me and I just paid so they will not do anything to Lim.
Gobind also suggested that Zarul had given money to several heavy weight politicians including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob nine years ago, which the latter disagreed with.
Gobind: In your statement to the MACC, you said you give Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz RM500,000.
Zarul: I cannot remember.
Gobind: You gave Ismail Sabri RM200,000 in 2013 when he was then the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism minister.
Gobind: You gave Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed RM100,000.
Gobind: You gave RM50,000 to Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s special officer.
Lim is facing four charges of using his position as the then chief minister to solicit gratification to help Zarul’s company secure the tunnel project.
He is alleged to have sought 10 percent of the profit to be made by the company from Zarul.
He is also accused of receiving RM3.3 million for himself and causing two plots of land belonging to the state government to be disposed of to two companies linked to the tunnel project.
The trial before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi continues on Aug 8.