Guan Eng, wife charged with abuse of power, money laundering over RM11.6 million project

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng at the Sessions Court in Butterworth today.

BUTTERWORTH: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, his wife Betty Chew and her business associate Phang Li Koon were charged at the Sessions Court here today with abuse of power and money laundering in relation to the award of a RM11.6 million project for foreign workers’ dorms to a company linked to Phang.

They were charged under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

Lim was charged with abusing his power as chief minister and tender board chairman of the Penang Development Corporation.

He was accused of giving gratification worth RM372,009 to Chew through Excel Property Management & Consultancy Sdn Bhd by ensuring that Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd was offered the project for foreign workers’ dorms at Juru and Batu Kawan.

The project in question was for dorms at Lot 631, Mukim 13, Juru, Central Seberang Perai and part of Lot 282, Mukim 13, Batu Kawan, South Seberang Perai.

The offence was allegedly committed between Aug 19, 2013 and March 3, 2016.

Phang was charged with abetting Lim under Section 28 (1)(c) of the MACC Act 2009.

Chew meanwhile was charged with three counts of laundering the RM372,009 from a Public Bank account registered at the Taman Melaka Raya branch between Oct 7, 2013 and March 3, 2016.

She was accused of receiving the money in three tranches: the first, RM87,009, between Aug 7, 2013 and Aug 4, 2014; the second, RM180,000, between Sept 3, 2014 and Aug 11, 2015; and the third, RM105,000, between Sept 4, 2015 and March 3, 2016.

Deputy public prosecutors Ahmad Akram Gharib, Roslan Mat Nor, Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar and Francine Cheryl Rajendram prosecuted.

The judge set bail of RM50,000 with one surety each for the trio who claimed trial to the charges.

Case mention will be held on Oct 16.

Objecting to Phang’s charge, lawyer V Sithambaram said the facts laid out in the case were identical to those in Lim’s Pinhorn Road bungalow case in 2016, in which Phang was also an accused.

Noting that she had been acquitted in that case, he said to try her again now would be a form of double jeopardy.

He added that the prosecution’s decision not to appeal against the 2016 acquittal meant that they had accepted the court’s decision.

“The prosecution could have presented this charge during the case then,” he said during submissions. “It is trite law, and Phang is caught in a political crossfire.”

However, Akram said the facts of the case differed from those in the 2016 case.

Lim was represented by lawyers Gobind Singh Deo, Ramkarpal Singh, RSN Rayer and V Vemal Arasan. Sangeet Kaur Deo and Lee Khai represented Chew while A Rueban Kumar also appeared for Phang.