Nazri introduced Zenith-BUGG MD to Guan Eng

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Former minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz admitted to receiving RM500,000 from Consortium Zenith-BUCG Sdn Bhd to help repair dilapidated religious schools in southern Thailand, the Sessions Court was told today.

Nazri, who was former culture, arts and tourism minister from 2013 to 2018, was testifying as the 14th prosecution witness at Lim Guan Eng’s undersea tunnel corruption trial today.

He said this during cross-examination by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo who queried him on questions posed by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators into the case.

Gobind: Did they ask you whether you received money from Zenith-BUCG managing director Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for the introduction or the project?

Nazri: No.

Gobind: Did he (Zarul) give you any money?

Nazri: Yes, a RM500,000 contribution to help rehabilitate dilapidated religious schools in Pattani district in southern Thailand.

Saifullizan Tamadi/NST

I am from Ulu Perak. Many Malays there have Pattani lineage. I have visited Pattani since 1975. The state of the pondok schools there were quite dilapidated (daif).

From the 1990s, I began (various) donation drives to channel contributions to rehabilitate these schools. I myself am a Malay with Pattani lineage.

Gobind: For this (graft) case (against Lim), did you receive any payment?

Nazri: No.

In his witness statement, Nazri testified that he had known Zarul since the 1990s as an acquaintance of his old friends, but not in terms of politics or business.

He also conceded that it was he who introduced Zarul to Lim after the latter expressed a desire to meet someone “powerful” in Penang regarding a project, which he did not name at the material time around late-2010 to early-2011.

“Zarul informed me that he wanted to know someone of influence in Penang to get him a project.

“But I did not know what project that was. I cannot remember the date he told me this.

“I took the initiative to contact and ask Lim if he is interested to meet Zarul regarding projects in Penang,” Nazri said.

Nazri said Lim subsequently agreed to meet with Zarul and he then arranged a meeting in January 2011 at Hotel Shangri-La at 9pm.

He said the discussions between Lim and Zarul lasted for about an hour after which Zarul left.

He said both he and Lim left at about 11pm.

Nazri said Lim and Zarul met again at an Italian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur in March 2011.

Nazri also said he had known Lim since the 1990s due to their involvement in politics and they had got to know each other well.

During the cross-examination by Gobind, Nazri agreed that it was not unusual for Zarul to seek his help to meet Lim or that it took place after office hours.

The witness said this was due to not only the nature of a person being both a lawmaker and minister but also due to the packed schedule such a person would shoulder.

In this trial, Lim faces four charges, one under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act for having allegedly solicited kickbacks of 10 per cent of future profits from Zarul as a reward to help the latter’s company secure the project in March 2011, as the then CM.

He is also facing a charge under Section 23(1) of the same Act for allegedly receiving RM3.3 million in kickbacks from Zarul between January 2011 and October 2017 for allegedly helping the latter’s company secure the mega project.