Former Finance Minister had a 2am business meeting with my husband, witness tells court in Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial.
The first prosecution witness was 35-year-old actress and businesswoman G Geethanjali, who also testified how she and her mother were woken up from their sleep in August 2017 around 2am, to welcome Lim
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng visited businessman Datuk G Gnanaraja at his home in Petaling Jaya for an impromptu meeting in the wee hours of the morning back in 2017, together with Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, the person he is alleged to have solicited a bribe from, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court was told today.
She said, when reading out her witness statement, that Zarul was someone familiar to her after having met him during several business meetings between him and her husband Gnanaraja.
Geethanjali, as part of her testimony, also confirmed photographs tendered as evidence which showed her, her mother, and Gnanaraja during that 2017 meeting were snapped by Zarul using his smartphone which she said was done in a candid manner.
“After taking the photographs, about 30 minutes later, my husband asked me and my mother to leave because he needed to discuss certain confidential matters with Lim and Zarul.
“I was only following my husband’s instructions where I and my mother then left and returned to our rooms and went back to sleep.
“I can confirm that after that, I did not find out any information that was discussed between my husband and Lim that night and I confirm that my husband did not share any information related to the conversation he had with Lim,” she testified.
The witness, who is also a businessperson, told judge Azura Alwi that as far as she remembered, Lim had come only once to her house, and that Zarul a few times for business purposes with her husband.
“I do not know what is their business with my husband. I did not invite Lim to come to the house and I am not a fan or supporter of Lim.
“I took pictures with Lim because my husband asked me to take pictures with Lim for the memories,” she said.
During cross-examination by Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Geethanjali conceded that it was not unusual for her to meet politicians in the past, and that it was usual to have her picture taken with them.
The witness also conceded that Gnanaraja knew many politicians, and that they had paid visits to the house.
Gobind: You told the court that you met Lim Guan Eng at the house?
Gobind: My question to you is, that it was normal for you to meet politicians?
Geethanjali: Before this, yes.
Gobind: So, it is normal that when meeting politicians, for pictures to be taken together?
Lim is accused of using his position as then Penang chief minister to ask Zarul for a 10% cut of the profits which would be made from the roads and tunnel project.
The former finance minister is also accused of seeking RM3.3 million in kickbacks to appoint Zarul’s company to undertake the project.
He also faces two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to two companies.
Tempers did flare for a brief moment in the trial during the prosecution’s examination in chief, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, when he made Geethanjali confirm whether or not those seen in the mentioned photographs of Lim’s visit were using socks.
Wan Shaharuddin’s line of questioning then triggered an objection from Lim’s lead counsel, Gobind, who questioned the motive, relation, and the need for the observation of whether socks were being worn by those in the photos.
Geethanjali was shown and made to confirm if those pictured were using socks for three separate photographs before Gobind’s interjection.
Wan Shaharuddin (directed at the witness): Now in this photo, can you tell the court if Lim Guan Eng and your mother in this photograph, are they using socks?
Gobind: Your Honour, I am sorry, but I would like to state for record’s sake that I am objecting to this. What is the connection between these photographs and the charges? Why is he asking about whether someone is using socks or not?
Wan Shaharuddin: Your Honour, my learned friend has stated his intention to object, but he has not stated under what Section. Maybe he can be a little patient to wait and see the intentions behind this.
Gobind: Under the Evidence Act! Your Honour, even first-year legal students will know that the questions have got to be related to the case. The DPP doesn’t know about basic laws. If you need me to school you, just tell me.
To this, Sessions Azura interjected and denied the objection, but at the same time asked Wan Shaharuddin to cut to the chase.
The second witness called in today was Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) digital forensic investigator Saadon Abd Samad, who verified extracting the implicated photographs tendered earlier from a Sony Xperia smartphone.
The smartphone’s owner however was not mentioned in court but is believed to belong to either Gnanaraja or Zarul.
Saadon testified that he was requested by an Investigating Officer in March this year to extract information from the smartphone, which included 10 photographs, some of which were shown to Geethanjali earlier.
During cross-examination, Gobind then questioned Saadon why he was asked to conduct an analysis on the device only in March when the charges were framed against Lim in August 2020.
Gobind: You conducted the analysis in 2021?
Gobind: And you received this exhibit on March 18, 2021?
Gobind: Do you know the accused was charged in August last year.
Saadon: I am not sure.
Gobind: So according to the timeline, the accused was charged, and the forensic analysis done only after that to verify the facts?
Gobind: Normally we check and investigate first, and then decide to charge or not, you agree?
Gobind: But why was this case different, where we charge first and then only do the forensic analysis?
Saadon: That is outside my jurisdiction.
Gobind: You said you were formerly an Investigating Officer. Normally you would have to investigate first and then charge correct?
Gobind: So, you agree that in this case it was not conducted like that?
Lim was also represented by Haijan Omar and Sangeet Kaur Deo, while deputy public prosecutors Wan Shaharuddin and Ahmad Akram Gharib appeared for the prosecution.
The hearing before Azura continues tomorrow.