[EXCLUSIVE] Why the A-GC dropped LGE's case

Ahmad Fairuz Othman

KUALA LUMPUR: The difficulty in proving that the bungalow deal was carried out ‘for a consideration which Lim Guan Eng knew to be inadequate’ was why the charges against the former Penang chief minister and businesswoman Phang Li Koon were withdrawn.

The New Straits Times has learnt that this was the basis for the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ withdrawal of the case, a move done in  secret and had drawn  flak from many quarters.

Highly-placed sources in Putrajaya with knowledge of the events that led to the decision which shocked many, told NST that this was practically the basis of the defence’s representation. The defence won a bigger victory when the High Court not only released the accused, but acquitted them of all charges.

The source referred this newspaper to Section 165 of the Penal Code, for the basis of the defence’s representation.

It is learnt that the prosecution believed that this basis was so strong that calling in the remaining witnesses would be “pointless”. The prosecution had called in 25 witnesses to testify against Lim and Phang.

“One must read the provisions properly...  One of the ingredients is not about the price, but whether the holder of public office  (Lim)  knew that the consideration is inadequate.

“That’s the problem when people don’t read the law and just comment... even making comparisons to the case of former Selangor menteri besar (Dr Mohamad) Khir Toyo, who was convicted in 2010 for knowingly acquiring a RM6.5 million mansion for RM3.5 million, while in office.

“How do you prove that thought process, that rationale, or thinking? In this case, this can be established only through the seller, and that is Phang.

“In Khir Toyo’s case, the seller had established that the mansion was to be sold for about RM7 million, but he (Khir) eventually acquired it for only RM3.5 million... “In this case (Lim’s), the seller asked for RM2.8 million and that was all there was to it. And she made RM300,000 from the sale,” he said, adding that there was no evidence to suggest that Lim knew that the property was below market value.

Asked about the valuation of the land and the stamp duty for the property paid by Lim that could contradict this, the source said it was immaterial to the argument of the duo’s guilt, as this was only after a verbal agreement had been made between Lim and Phang.

The source added that this matter was also supported by a bank officer, who said Lim’s wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, had  proceeded to seek a loan for the bungalow, which tallies with the timeline of when Lim had wanted to purchase the property, which was later said to be valued at RM4.27 million.

“The prosecution cannot call Chew, and obviously cannot call Phang, who’s the other accused... so where is this evidence, to prove otherwise, going to come from? 

“Take note that the valuation was done subsequently for the purpose of investigations later,” the source said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd