KUALA LUMPUR: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here today to soliciting a bribe over the undersea tunnel project.
Lim was slapped with a charge under Section 16(a)(A) of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act of using his position as then Penang chief minister to ask Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (Zenith) senior director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for a 10% cut of the profits which would be made from the roads and tunnel project.
Zenith has been awarded the contract to carry out the undersea tunnel project linking the island with the mainland and its accompanying three roads.
Lim is alleged to have committed the offence at The Gardens Hotel here in March 2011.
If found guilty, he will face a maximum 20 years in jail and fined up to five times the alleged gratification solicited.
Sessions judge Azura Alwi granted Lim bail of RM1 million in two sureties. He was also instructed to surrender his passport to the court pending the disposal of his trial.
Azura set Sept 9 as the next mention date.
“I believe all of you are professional and know your limit on what to say,” she added, when deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin asked the court to give an order against making sub judice comments.
The judge said if there are allegations or complaints about sub judice remarks, she will deal with them accordingly.
Earlier, the prosecution asked the court to impose bail of RM2 million with two bailors on grounds that Lim is facing a serious charge.
“He is accused of committing the offence when he was chief minister. He betrayed the trust of the public towards him. For us, corruption is seen as a ‘cancer’ in our society,” Wan Shaharuddin said.
The DPP also raised the possibility of Lim absconding, and asked for his passport to be compounded.
“The threshold is low but the possibility is there. We also hope that bail will be revoked if he tampers with witnesses,” he said.
In response, Lim’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, urged the court to impose bail of RM500,000 in one surety.
“Bail is to secure the accused’s attendance. On the issue of absconding that the prosecution raised, we submit that this is baseless as he gave his full cooperation to MACC during investigations,” he said.