KUALA LUMPUR: There was no coercion or outside interference in the valuation of two state-owned plots of land for the Penang undersea tunnel project, two property appraisers claim.
Former Department of Valuation and Property Services senior appraiser Zakariya Nayan and appraiser Nurul Asshima Aminullah told the Court of Sessions that they were responsible for the appraisals.
The plots are the subject of a corruption trial involving the undersea tunnel case of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng.
Zakariya and Nurul Asshima said they carried out the appraisal of Lot 702 in December 2014 and Lot 713 in November 2016 respectively, after receiving requests from the Penang Land and Mines Office.
They also said they appraised the two plots independently, based on market value at the time.
According to the land office, the land was intended for exchange with Ewein Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (lot 702) and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd (lot 713) for mixed development projects.
Zakariya told the court his valuation of RM50 million for lot 702 was based on the market value of RM3,360 per square meter of freehold land in 2014.
“I confirm that the valuation of lot 702 was not influenced by any form of interference or pressure from outside parties,” said Zakariya, the 25th witness for the prosecution.
He also said there was no difference in valuation for the land exchange as the base value was the same, based on market value at the time.
Under cross-examination by Lim’s lawyer, Haijan Omar, Zakariya agreed that the value of the land was much lower than the development made by the developer, which was estimated at RM138 million.
Zakariya agreed that the state government benefited greatly from the land swap, following the difference in initial land value and subsequent development.
Nurul Asshima, the 26th prosecution witness, said his valuation of Lot 713 was RM30 million in 2016 and was done without any pressure or interference from the parties.
She also agreed that the initial value of lot 713 was less than what had been spent by the developer, which was estimated at RM73mil.
Both witnesses also agreed that the state government suffered no loss from the land swap.
When questioned, Zakariya and Nurul Asshima said they were unaware that the two plots of land were to be swapped as part of a payment to the Zenith-BUCG Consortium Sdn Bhd, which won the sub-tunnel project. marine.
Earlier, Lim’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, informed the court of Lim’s absence as the Air Putih MP was to attend the official opening of the new session of the Penang Assembly.
Gobind said he informed the prosecution and the defense team would continue with the trial without Lim present.
Deputy Attorney General Ahmad Akram Gharib said the prosecution had no objection but urged the court to put it down.
Judge Azura Alwi then invoked the article before the resumption of the trial.
Lim, 62, faces four corruption charges relating to the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and a twin road project in Penang.
For the first amended charge, Lim is accused of using his position as Chief Minister of Penang to corruptly receive RM3.3 million to help businessman Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli’s company to securing the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702, between January 2011 and August 2017, at the office of the Chief Minister of Penang.
For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project in March 2011 near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City.
Lim is also charged with two counts of disposing of two plots of land, worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government.
The hearing will resume on June 7.