Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng arrested on corruption charges linked to Penang undersea tunnel project

Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng arrested on corruption charges linked to Penang undersea tunnel project

Lim Guan Eng
Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng. (File photo: Bernama) 

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng was arrested on Thursday (Aug 6) and is set to be charged with corruption in connection to the Penang undersea tunnel project, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said.

Lim will be charged at the Special Corruption Court on Friday for offences under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009, which involves accepting gratification, the MACC said in a press statement on Thursday night.

On Aug 10, he will also be charged for offences under Section 23 of the Act, which involves using public office or position for gratification, the MACC added. That prosecution will be carried out at the Penang Sessions Court.

"Both charges in the Kuala Lumpur and Penang courts are related to Penang undersea tunnel project," said MACC.

Meanwhile, MACC said Lim would also be charged for a separate case next Tuesday under Section 23 of the MACC Act at the Penang Sessions Court.

Lim, who was Penang's chief minister for more than 10 years until 2018, was seen entering the MACC's headquarters at about 9.10pm on Thursday.

The Bagan Member of Parliament had previously been called up three times to give statements regarding the case connected to the RM6.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) undersea tunnel project.

Lim's arrest follows a months-long investigation into graft allegations over the undersea tunnel project, part of the Penang Transport Master Plan. 

READ: Penang mega reclamation project a divisive issue on the ground

Earlier reports stated that investigations into the case were in the final phase, while MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki was quoted to have said that investigation papers on the case were expected to be submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers in the near future.

On Jun 30, the MACC detained a former senior official of the Penang Port Commission to assist with investigations into elements of corruption in the project. 

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, as well as several current and former state executive council members, were also called to provide their statements to the MACC regarding the project.

The 7.2km undersea tunnel was planned to connect George Town and Butterworth, and was in the final stages of feasibility studies in August last year, the New Straits Times reported.

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 – a move critics said was part of a crackdown on those who opposed then prime minister Najib Razak's administration.

The charges against Lim were dismissed after Najib was ousted in the 2018 election by the Mahathir-led coalition.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years' jail and fined about US$50 million on Jul 28, following a guilty verdict in his first 1MDB corruption trial.

READ: Malaysia's former finance minister Lim Guan Eng pleads not guilty to bribe charge

Source: Agencies/dv(mi)

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