BUTTERWORTH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has pleaded not guilty to two charges of dishonest misappropriation of property amounting to more than RM200 million (S$65.8 million) under Section 403 of the Penal Code at the Butterworth Sessions Court.
Lim was charged on Friday (Sept 11) with disposing two properties in the form of land to two companies linked to the controversial undersea tunnel project.
Based on the charge sheet, Lim was charged with dishonest misappropriation of property leading to the disposal of state land located in Penang's Bandar Tanjong Pinang worth RM135,086,094 to Ewein Zenith on Feb 17, 2015, at Komtar Tower, as then Chief Minister.
He was also charged with dishonest misappropriation of property leading to the disposal of another plot of state land located in Bandar Tanjong Pinang worth RM73,668,986 to Zenith Urban Development on March 22, 2017, at the same location.
According to the Penal Code, whoever dishonestly misappropriates, or converts to his own use, or causes any other person to dispose of, any property, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than six months and not more than five years and with caning, and shall also be liable to a fine, if found guilty.
Lim arrived at the court grounds at 10.40am accompanied by his wife Betty Chew, his father and Democratic Action Party adviser Lim Kit Siang, and his sister Lim Hooi Ying.
Members of the media gathered at the courthouse before 9am and the crowd swelled to about 100 people, including politicians, party members and supporters, by 10am.
Among those present were Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, state exco members Zairil Khir Johari and Soon Lip Chee, Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee, Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees and Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng, as well as several city councillors.
Meanwhile, North Seberang Prai Officer-in-Charge of Police District, Assistant Commissioner Noorzainy Mohd Noor, advised those gathered to practise physical distancing and wear face masks or be fined.
Lim will appear before Special Corruption Sessions Court judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid.
Lim is represented by lawyers Gobind Singh Deo, RSN Rayer, V. Vemal Arasan and Ramkarpal Singh.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Wan Shaharudin Wan Ladin, Francine Cheryl Rajendram and Selvaranjini Selvaraja are prosecuting for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
In August, Lim was slapped with multiple charges within a one-week span.
He was charged under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 on Aug 7 for soliciting a 10 per cent cut of profits from Consortium Zenith Construction in March 2011 in exchange for helping the company secure the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.
On Aug 10, he was charged under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act 2009 for soliciting a bribe of RM3.3 million from Consortium Zenith Construction between January 2011 and August 2017 in exchange for helping the company be appointed as the builder of three roads related to the Penang undersea tunnel project.
He was then charged on Aug 11, along with his wife Betty Chew and businesswoman Phang Li Koon, for abusing his public office for gratification under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 when he was chief minister and Penang Development Corporation chairman between Aug 19, 2013, and March 3,2016.
Chew was charged with three counts of money laundering, while Phang was charged with abetting Lim in gaining the RM372,009 for Chew.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The charges against Lim were for his alleged actions during his tenure as Penang chief minister.