The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court was told on Friday (Sept 24) of several WhatsApp messages exchanged between two individuals with supposed links to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng.
These exchanges ranged from purported meetings with Lim to personal messages.
The messages, from the phones of businessman G. Gnanaraja and Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd senior executive director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, were read out by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Yusof, the eighth witness in Lim’s graft trial.
“Superb sir. I’ll bring your chocolate. Eastin?” read one message from Gnanaraja to Zarul Ahmad on Aug 18, 2017.
“Aiyoo sir, PM went to whack my tunnel project n this Tony Pua whack him back (sic),” read another.
“PM is giving Rahman Dahlan excuse to continue attacking,” Zarul Ahmad was said to have messaged Gnanaraja, with a news article on the Penang undersea tunnel project attached.
(Referring to then urban wellbeing, local government and housing minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.)
In another message on Aug 20, 2017, Zarul Ahmad reportedly sent to Gnanaraja: “CM called me and he look (sic) for the soonest time to come over to your house.”
Gnanaraja’s wife K Geethanjali had testified in the same case previously that Lim and Zarul Ahmad paid a visit to her house in the early hours of the morning sometime in August 2017.
In another exchange of messages on Aug 28 that year, Zarul Ahmad first sent: “Sir I’m waiting for him near Tropicana area. HIs function is still on.”
Close to midnight, Zarul Ahmad then sent: “Sir he just texted me. He says one more hour. Are you ok with it sir.”
On Aug 29, at 12.52am, Zarul Ahmad messaged Gnanaraja: “We are OTW sir.”
Gnanaraja then told Zarul Ahmad to take pictures of him talking to Lim.
Zarul Ahmad then sent several pictures to Gnanaraja at 3.15am, the court heard.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, Firdaus read out other messages between Zarul Ahmad and Gnanaraja.
“I love you Dato. You are constantly on my mind. I’ll finish anyone who disturbs you Dato,” Zarul Ahmad wrote.
Gnanaraja then replied: “I’m so grateful sir. I’ll make you a star that shines bright in the cabinet.”
In another message, Zarul Ahmad told Gnanaraja: “Ada one important news. Tomorrow I’ll talk to you in the morning Dato. I love you my dearest Dato,” with Gnanaraja replying: “Ok sure sir. Love you too sir.”
During cross-examination, Gobind asked the MACC officer if the WhatsApp contents showed Zarul and Gnanaraja were best friends. Firdaus answered in the affirmative.
Gobind: Did you know that Gnanaraja was charged in court for allegedly cheating Zarul?
Firdaus: I am not aware.
Ironically, Gnanaraja – who is well known as Datuk Seri G or DSG, has since been charged with cheating Zarul and also had his title revoked by the Pahang Palace in 2019.
He has claimed trial to three counts of cheating Zarul in relation to the tunnel project.
He was accused of deceiving Zarul into paying him RM19 million between July and August 2017. Gnanaraja had allegedly promised Zarul to use his connections to help settle an ongoing MACC probe into the consortium, which was the main contractor for the RM6.34 billion project.
Gnanaraja allegedly deceived Zarul into giving him RM2 million in cash in July and August 2017 at Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya.
He is also accused of cheating Zarul of RM15 million on July 27, 2017, at the CIMB Bank branch at the Petronas Twin Towers.
When questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin, Firdaus said none of the messages showed any plan by the duo to fix Lim.
He confirmed that the businessman also never talked about giving money to Lim.
The hearing continues from Nov 1 to 5 before judge Azura Alwi.
Wan Shaharuddin told the court that former minister Nazri Aziz is scheduled to testify on Nov 5, which is one day after Deepavali.
“He told us he is only available that day,” he added.
Lim is accused of using his position as then Penang chief minister to ask Zarul for a 10% cut of the profits 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.
Lim also faces two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land given to two companies.