‘Middleman’ introduced by Nazri Aziz.
Businessperson G Gnanaraja was identified as a “middleman” for allegedly delivering bribes to former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng based on his supposed closeness with former prime minister Najib Razak.
Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC) senior executive director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli testified that he was acting on Lim’s alleged instructions to find a middleman.
He said he recommended Gnanaraja who he was introduced to by Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz as a “close associate” of Najib.
“Based on such an introduction from my good friend Dato Seri Nazri, there was no reason for me to not believe Gnanaraja’s position with the (former) prime minister.
“Aside from helping me to improve my relations with the prime minister so that I will not be disturbed by the (federal) BN government and my project can be carried out peacefully, I also wished to foster closer ties between Lim and the PM to ensure no more disruptions to my project in Penang,” Zarul testified.
“Therefore, I acted to involve Gnanaraja in giving the cash to Lim,” he said.
After a series of self-deliveries from 2013 to 2016, Zarul said Lim instructed him to use a middleman for future payments in case of monitoring by the MACC, and so he recommended Gnanaraja.
Zarul said he went on to contact Gnanaraja sometime between May and August 2017 to propose his role as the middleman to make payments to Lim.
“This is because at that time I was already afraid to hold and keep large amounts of cash, as I was already under MACC surveillance,” he said.
Zarul said on Aug 17, 2017, he instructed for RM2 million in cash to be given to Lim via Gnanaraja.
“I told Gnanaraja via WhatsApp I want to hand over ‘chocolate’ to him to be given to ‘Bigboss’… Chocolate here means cash,” he said.
Zarul said he placed the money in two dark-coloured sports bags, each containing RM1 million cash, in Gnanaraja’s Bentley car during a brief handover at Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya, on Aug 18.
He testified that two days later, he picked up Gnanaraja with one of the sports bags, and together they picked up Lim at Wentworth Hotel in Kuala Lumpur to drop him off at Publika for an event.
“As far as I know Gnanaraja took a selfie together with Lim in my car.
“Upon arrival in Publika, Lim thanked me and pat my shoulder in a gesture of thanks.
“Through his actions, I was sure it was because he had taken the bag with the RM1 million cash and wanted to thank me,” he said.
Zarul further revealed the second bag was handed to Lim by Gnanaraja when he took Lim to the latter’s house in Seksyen 5, Petaling Jaya, past midnight on Aug 28.
“We went to Gnanaraja’s house and met his family that day. They (Gnnanaraja’s family members) were happy to have YB Lim as their guest,” he said.
The court previously heard testimony from Gnanaraja’s wife, actress K Geethanjali, who said Lim and Zarul visited them late at night.
She had said Gnanaraja asked her to return to her bedroom, after the family took pictures with Lim, as he, Lim and Zarul needed to discuss some “confidential matters”.
Zarul said he saw Lim take out the bag when he was dropped off at The Gardens Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, after returning from Gnanaraja’s house.
Gnanaraja was previously charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court on April 3, 2019 for allegedly deceiving Zarul on three occasions in 2017 into believing he has political connections that could stop the MACC investigation against him.
Gnanaraja also had his Datukship revoked by the Pahang Palace in 2019.
The trial resumes on Monday (June 27) with cross-examination by lead defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo.