Guan Eng’s graft trial: Phang paid RM11,800 in instalments for bungalow

Businesswoman Phang Li Koon (left) sold the bungalow on Pinhorn Road to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for RM2.8 million.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s Pinhorn Road bungalow was originally bought by businesswoman Phang Li Koon, who took a bank loan of RM2.125 million, the High Court heard today.

Public Bank Penang Northern 1 regional manager Choong Sung Yean told the court that Phang was given the loan with an interest of 6.57% BLR (base lending rate), minus 2.2%, on Sept 5, 2008.

He said the monthly instalment was RM11,872 a month.

“Phang bought the property from Ming Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd,” Choong told Phang’s lead lawyer V Sithambaram during his cross-examination today.

On June 30, 2016, Lim, 58, was charged with using his public office to obtain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew, by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd (MESB) to convert agricultural land for residential purposes.

Lim was also alleged to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing a bungalow from Phang for RM2.8 million, which is below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million, on July 28, 2015.

Phang was charged with abetment. Both Lim and Phang had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Earlier, in his opening statement, deputy public prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud told the court that Phang had purchased the bungalow for RM2.5 million.

He said Phang then rented the bungalow to Lim and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, from 2009 to 2015 at RM5,000 a month.

“Statements will show that the accused, Phang, suffered a loss of RM6,872 a month. There was a total loss of RM494,784 throughout the period the said property was rented to Lim,” Masri told the court.

Masri said Lim and Phang went into an “option sum” agreement on June 23, 2014, where the chief minister was to buy the bungalow at a price of RM2.8 million, at anytime over the next five years.

Lim paid a downpayment of RM100,000 to Phang.

Masri said Lim was fully aware of the bungalow’s market value when he paid an ad valorem duty of RM122,100.

He said Lim also failed to declare his relationship and interest during a State Planning Committee (SPC) meeting, where he approved the rezoning application of two pieces of land from agricultural to public housing by MESB, where Phang is a director.

“Statements from witnesses will show that at the 9th SPC meeting in 2013 and the 10th meeting of the SPC in 2014, Lim had failed to declare that he was renting Phang’s house and also had signed an agreement to buy Phang’s house on June 23, 2014.

“The prosecution will show that Lim, as the chairperson of the SPC, was directly involved in the approval of the application by MESB to rezone Lot 436 and 437, Mukim J, Southwest District, Penang, from agricultural to public housing,” Masri said.

The trial before Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail continues tomorrow.

It will run in five parts for 23 days. The first part runs from today until Friday.

The trial takes place almost two years after Lim and Phang were first charged.

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