KUALA LUMPUR: Two land valuation officers told the sessions court today there was no external interference over their evaluation of state land given to companies linked to the Penang undersea tunnel project.
Zakariya Nayan and Nurul Asshima Aminullah said they received applications from the Penang land and mines office to put a price tag on two plots of land on two separate occasions – December 2014 and November 2016.
They said they evaluated the land independently and based their value on the market price during the material time.
They identified the land as Lots 702 and 10012, located at Bandar Tanjung Pinang in George Town, which the land and mines office said would be given to Ewein Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (Lot 702) and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd (Lot 10012) for mixed development projects.
Zakiriya said he put a RM50 million price tag on Lot 702, while Asshima valued Lot 10012 at RM30 million.
The two lots of land are the subject matter of the corruption charges faced by former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in connection with the project.
Lim is accused of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to the two companies under Section 403 of the Penal Code.
He is also alleged to have used his former position to ask Consortium Zenith-BUCG director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for a 10% cut of the profits from the project, and accepting RM3.3 million in kickbacks from Zarul.
During cross-examination today by Lim’s lawyer, Haijan Omar, the two valuation officers were asked whether they knew that the two lots were swapped as part of a payment to Consortium Zenith-BUCG for a RM211 million project it had done previously.
Zakiriya and Asshima said they were not aware.
They agreed with Haijan’s suggestion that the value of the land was “far less” compared to the costs of Consortium Zenith-BUCG’s work.
Earlier, lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo urged the court to excuse Lim from today’s hearing, saying the Air Putih assemblyman had to attend the opening of the new session of the Penang state assembly.
He said the defence had also notified the prosecution about it.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said the prosecution had no objection but urged the court to put in on record “so this will not be a dispute if our case goes on appeal”.
Sessions court judge Azura Alwi said she will invoke Section 264 of Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) where an accused’s presence could be dispensed with.
Previously, the court proceeded to hear Lim’s case despite his absence after he was admitted to the National Heart Institute for a procedure.
The hearing will continue on June 7.