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Malaysia's ex-finance minister charged again in graft case

SeattlePI.com Monday, 10 August 2020
PENANG, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's former finance minister pleaded not guilty Monday to a second corruption charge related to a $1.5 billion undersea tunnel project and slammed the case as a trumped-up charge by the new government.

Lim Guan Eng, 59, was first charged Friday with soliciting 10% of potential profits in 2011 as a bribe for the project planned in northern Penang state. On Monday, he was accused of abusing his power as Penang chief minister to obtain 3.3 million ringgit ($786,182) as inducement to help a local company secure the construction contract.

The project was approved during Lim’s tenure as Penang chief minister from 2008-2018, before he became Malaysia’s finance minister.

Lim, who was part of a reformist government ousted in March, said anti-graft officials had never questioned him on the 3.3 million ringgit he allegedly received nor was there any evidence he had the money. He also noted charge gave a vague timeline, from 2011 to August 2017.

“This is clearly a baseless allegation and politically motivated. I will fight in court to prove my innocence," Lim told a news conference after the hearing. Each charge against him carries a potential punishment of up to 20 years in jail and a fine if convicted.

The 7.2 kilometre (4.5 miles) tunnel project from Penang island to peninsular Malaysia includes several highways and is to be funded through a land swap of reclaimed prime land. Construction hasn’t started as the state government is still reviewing the feasibility study.

The anti-graft agency has said Lim will face a third charge Tuesday over a different case. Lim said in a Facebook post on Monday that his lawyer wife, Betty Chew, will also face money-laundering charges on Tuesday. He said his son has also been the target of slander on...
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