Late businessman feared for safety after ‘confession’ in Guan Eng’s case, court hears

Late businessman feared for safety after ‘confession’ in Guan Eng’s case, court hears

The corruption trial of Lim Guan Eng was told today that a witness who has since died had expressed worry for his safety after making a “confession” relating to the undersea tunnel case.

Asked by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers if he wanted security to be provided, Ewe Swee Kheng, who was Ewein Bhd founder and executive chairman, said no, the Sessions Court was told.

MACC officer Muhammad Nazree Mansor, who took Ewe’s statement shortly before his death, read the contents in court.

The property developer, who was supposed to testify in Lim’s trial, died on Oct 5, 2021 after falling from his 16-storey luxury condominium unit in Penang and landing in a swimming pool.

In December, the court allowed the prosecution to tender Ewe’s statement in Lim’s trial.

According to Nazree, Ewe told the MACC on Aug 14, 2021 that he had met the former Penang chief minister 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 told the MACC that he was “excited” over Lim’s suggestion that he buy the land from the contractor.

“I told him 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.

Lim is standing trial on charges of using his position as then Penang chief minister to ask Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for a 10% cut of the profits from the undersea tunnel project and accepting RM3.3 million in kickbacks from the businessman.

He is also accused of two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to two companies.

During the recording of the statement, Ewe was asked by MACC officers about discrepancies between his Aug 14, 2021 statement and his six previous statements.

Ewe allegedly said, “When MACC started the investigation (on the undersea tunnel project), Pakatan Harapan took over the federal government and YB Lim was acquitted in his bungalow case.

“I knew he was ‘untouchable’ at the material time. I also heard that YB Lim had received money from other contractors. I feel compelled to tell the ‘truth’”.

Ewe said in the statement tendered that he was worried about his safety after making this “confession”.

When MACC officers asked Ewe if he wanted the authorities to guard him, he replied:

“I don’t think so. I will be careful after this.”

Final statement contradicts previous ones

Cross-examined by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo on whether the MACC had recorded other statements from Ewe, Nazree said he and his colleague took six statements from Ewe between July 2020 and Aug 14, 2021.

Nazree admitted that in three other statements recorded by him, the businessman made no mention of Lim allegedly abusing his power or being involved in corrupt practices.

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”.

Nazree then told the court that MACC officers and several public prosecutors (Ahmad Akram Gharib, Francine Cheryl Rajendram, Mahadi Abdul Jumaat, Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mokhtar) went to the state MACC office in Georgetown on Aug 14, 2021 to prepare witness statements for Lim’s trial.

He confirmed that Ewe was among the witnesses who attended.

Gobind pointed out that Ewe was asked to be present at 10am but had to wait until 3pm to have his sixth statement recorded.

“Did you ask him if he was giving his statement voluntarily?” the lawyer asked.

“I have no answer to that,” Nazree replied.

Gobind also asked about Ewe’s allegation that Lim was “untouchable”, adding that it was illogical.

Nazree, however, did not agree.

The hearing continues on March 24. FMT

Late businessman feared for safety after ‘confession’ in Guan Eng’s case, court hears

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