Several Malaysian politicians on anti-graft agency's radar over Penang undersea tunnel project

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PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Several politicians are on the radar as anti-graft investigators zoom in on kickbacks of millions of ringgit over the feasibility study award for the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Sources familiar with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations said the monetary rewards were over "misconduct" by the parties involved.

"There were politicians who received a few hundred thousand ringgit and those who took millions.

"Investigators are digging in on the extent of the misconduct and where the payments took place.

"It is believed that this is also related to the two land swaps done as payment for the feasibility study," said a source, who declined to elaborate.

The source said the MACC was recording statements from more witnesses to help investigators piece the puzzle together.

When contacted, MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operation) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said the investigating team had gone to 42 locations in Penang and the Klang Valley so far and questioned more than 76 witnesses.

In Putrajaya, the two with "Datuk" title detained in connection with the case were released on a RM200,000 (S$67,087) bail each.

The two, aged 49 and 59, were released by magistrate Aida Kharuleen Azli on Friday (Jan 19).

On Jan 9, graft-busters arrested them to help shed light into allegations of corruption over the undersea tunnel project.

A few days after their remand, Ewein Bhd and Vertice Bhd (formerly Voir Holdings Bhd) informed Bursa Malaysia that Ewein group managing director Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng and Vertice chairman Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli had been remanded.

Zarul Ahmad is also senior executive director of Consortium Zenith Construction, the tunnel project's contractor.

Besides four state government agencies raided by the anti-graft agency, MACC also raided property development, construction and engineering companies.

On Tuesday, Ewein said in a statement that neither the company nor its subsidiaries were involved in the undersea tunnel project and that its subsidiary, Ewein Land Sdn Bhd, was merely in a joint-venture with Consortium Zenith Construction to develop land alienated to the consortium by the state government.

It is learnt that Ewein Bhd would meet the press on Sunday morning to address the issue.

The RM6.3 billion mega project includes building the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in north Butterworth, 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

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