Lim Guan Eng
8 August 2020
Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng was arrested on corruption charges on Thursday (6 Aug). According to the Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) he will be charged with bribery in connection to the Penang undersea tunnel project. Lim’s wife Betty Chew was also arrested by the MACC on Friday (Aug 7) along with businesswoman Phang Li Koon.
Lim will face three charges of corruption and abuse of power over the controversial Penang undersea tunnel project. He will face one corruption charge in the Kuala Lumpur Special Corruption Court and two charges for abuse of power in the Penang Sessions Court. It is believed that the charges in Penang involved the purchase of a bungalow and land in the state in 2015.
According to The Star, the MACC is looking into allegations that the state government allowed the Penang Tunnel special purpose vehicle (SPV) company to sell state land rights worth RM3 billion despite a four-year delay in the construction of roads. Investigators are also said to be looking into the feasibility and detailed design studies that have yet to be completed, even though payment of RM220 million was allegedly made to the SPV.
He was previously been called up by MACC three times to give statements regarding the case connected to the RM6.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) undersea tunnel project. The 7.2km undersea tunnel was planned to connect George Town and Butterworth.
Lim served as finance minister in former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed’s administration that collapsed in February. He was one of the key leaders from the Mahathir administration who was involved in Malaysia’s efforts to recover billions allegedly stolen from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
In 2016, Lim was charged with two counts of abuse of power for approving a land deal and the purchase of a bungalow at below market price. But the case was closed by then Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, as soon as he became the finance minister.
The charge sheet showed that he had asked for a bribe of 10 per cent of future profits from a company that was awarded a contract to build the undersea tunnel. Early studies for the tunnel commenced during his administration in 2016. He was chief minister of Penang for 10 years from 2008 to 2018.
Mr. Lim told reporters after the court session that the project was by open tender and not by a direct award. So far, no payment has been paid under the contract.
Channel News Asia reported.