Guan Eng trial: Late developer’s final statement contradicts previous ones

- Advertisement - [resads_adspot id="2"]

A recorded statement of the late developer Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) revealed that he met with Lim Guan Eng over suitable lands for him to develop.

The statement was read out by MACC officer Asst Supt Muhammad Nazree Mansor, the 15th prosecution witness who was recalled to the stand for further cross-examination on Wednesday (Feb 23).

According to Nazree, Ewe told the MACC on Aug 14, 2021, that he had met Lim and spoken to him about his intention to develop some land in the state in 2011.

“YB Lim told me he will look into a state government project where payment will be made through ‘land swap’. He told me to deal with the contractor in the said project so that the contractor can sell the land to my company,” Ewe told the MACC.

Ewe also told the MACC that he was “excited” over Lim’s suggestion that he buy the land from the contractor.

“I told him (Lim) that if my plan to develop the state land was successful, I would repay his assistance by giving him a few units (of apartments) or giving him part of the profits from the sale,” he claimed in the statement produced by Nazree.

Subsequently, Ewein Zenith, a joint-venture vehicle of Ewein Land Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd, launched the RM800 million City of Dreams service apartments in Bandar Tanjong Pinang in 2016.

The land on which the City of Dreams was built is part of the land mentioned in Lim’s corruption case.

Nazree had earlier testified that he had recorded Ewe’s statement four times on July 3, 8 and 9 last year and on Aug 14 this year and admitted that he did not record his statements in full on Aug 14.

In the Aug 14 statement that was read out, Ewe said he could see many reclaimed lands on the Penang shore from his condominium unit at The Palazzo and envisioned having his City of Dreams service apartment project built on a plot of land.

The Star

When asked why his statement was different from what he told the MACC previously, Ewe said he had heard at that time that Lim received money from contractors and he wanted to expose all this to the graft busters as the truth needed to be told.

Nazree said Ewe revealed that when the MACC started its investigations into the tunnel project, Pakatan Harapan was in power and Lim was seen as an untouchable.

Ewe said Lim had then escaped prosecution over the latter’s bungalow scandal, and he feared repercussions if anyone found out about what he had revealed to the MACC.

Nazree said Ewe had also informed the MACC that he feared for his safety after he had spoken to the graft busters.

“He said he would be extra cautious after talking to us,” Nazree said, adding Ewe, however, declined to be placed under the witness protection programme despite fearing for his safety.

Ewe also said he was not harassed by any party into making the statement.

During cross-examination, defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo had questioned if there were other statements taken with Ewe by the MACC, to which Nazree said no.

When asked again, the officer said he had recorded four statements from Ewe, while his colleague took two others from Ewe.

When Nazree was told to read out part of the three other statements, Ewe said he did not give anything to Lim and former Penang exco member Datuk Lim Hock Seng in order to obtain the land deal.

Ewe also said both Lim, Hock Seng and their families did not receive any units from his City of Dreams project.

Gobind: Questions were asked to the deceased on whether bribes were paid to anyone, to which he (Ewe) said no?

Nazree: Yes.

Gobind then asked Nazree whether he knew the contents of the two statements recorded by his colleague.

“I have no knowledge,” Nazree replied.

Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin told judge Azura Alwi that the prosecution would call the other officer to testify later.

Gobind interjected to say, “We will show that Ewe’s other statements were in support of our defence case and the Aug 14, 2021 statement tendered today contradicts the others”.

Gobind also questioned the authenticity of Ewe’s statement on Aug 14 which was handwritten by Nazree, to which the latter replied that there was no computer in the interrogation room at that time.

When Gobind suggested that he was not alone in the interrogation room, Nazree agreed and mentioned the names of several other officers who were present.

Gobind got Nazree to confirm that several Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPP) involved in Lim’s prosecution were present at the Penang MACC headquarters when Ewe recorded his final statement implicating Lim.

Gobind also made an issue of why Ewe’s statement was only taken five hours after he had turned up at the MACC office on Aug 14.

The trial continues on Thursday (March 24).

Lim, 62, is facing four corruption charges involving the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

For the first amended charge, Lim is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help Zarul Ahmad’s company secure the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company get appointed for the same project.

Lim is charged with committing the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.

Lim is also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil owned by the Penang state government to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.