Lim Guan Eng pleads not guilty for corruption over RM6.3 billion Penang tunnel project

Lim Guan Eng greets passers-by at an event in February. Photo: Lim Guan Eng /Facebook
Lim Guan Eng greets passers-by at an event in February. Photo: Lim Guan Eng /Facebook

Malaysia’s former finance minister Lim Guan Eng pleaded not guilty for corruption over the controversial RM6.3 billion (US$ 1.5 billion) Penang undersea tunnel project that was approved during his tenure as the state’s chief minister. 

He was accused of seeking bribes from a construction firm before contracting it for the project, in the form of 10% of potential profits when it is completed. 

The leader of the Democratic Action Party, who was represented by lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo, pleaded not guilty in the Kuala Lumpur Special Corruption Court today.

He was arrested late last night by officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Judge Azura Alwi set his bail at RM1 million in two sureties and ordered Lim to surrender his passport. Court proceedings for this charge continue on Sep. 9. Lim faces a fine of at least five times the value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, as well as imprisonment not exceeding 20 years. 

He will face two other charges for abuse of power in the Penang Sessions Court on Monday, and further unspecified charges on Tuesday.

The 59-year-old was Penang chief minister from 2008 to 2018. The Penang undersea tunnel project began construction in 2016 and is expected to complete in 2025. The tunnel is expected to connect Butterworth in the state of Penang to Georgetown on Penang island.

Consortium Zenith Construction was involved in the project. Lim had allegedly solicited bribes from its senior executive director Zarul Ahmad Zulkifli. 

The same company has also been appointed for several other major projects in Penang, such as the nearly-completed luxury property development “City of Dreams” and the ongoing construction of a second major highway connecting the Water Itam bypass to the Thean Teik Expressway.

According to the charge sheet, Lim allegedly committed the offence in March 2011 near Gardens Hotel in Mid Valley City.

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