21 March 2018, Wednesday | 01:28am

Penang undersea tunnel project: Probe to focus on RM305m fee


KUALA LUMPUR: THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation into the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project will focus on the RM305 million paid to the project’s consultant using two plots of land near Tanjung Tokong.

Sources close to the investigation informed Berita Harian (BH) this was because when the two plots of land, measuring 1.49ha and 0.8ha, are developed they could fetch up to RM15 billion.

The source also said another aspect being looked into was the feasibility studies and detailed design of the project worth a whopping RM305 million.

“Questions arise on the total cost to the state government for the studies and its method of payment,” the source added.

Queries about the mega project and payments made by the state government had previously been raised at the Penang state assembly sitting by PKR’s Kebun Bunga representative Cheah Kah Peng in November 2016.

Cheah had then queried the state government about the pros and cons, costs and details of the privatised mega reclamation and land swap projects.

He said the state assemblymen were then informed that the tunnel’s “feasibility report” and the required “environmental impact report” had not been completed, but yet the government had agreed to pay a large payment of RM138,971,572 for the feasibility report and design, and that the sum was approved by the relevant government departments years ago.

He said the whole feasibility report was worth RM305 million and was mainly to be paid with land swaps, which involved exchanges of two lots at Tanjung Pinang and Tanjung Tokong.

He later posted that questions had been raised by few state assemblymen on the land swaps and reclamations, and that they were unsure how the feasibility tests justified such a large payment and in exchange for the two lots of reclaimed land.

Another source told BH that the two plots were eventually going to be developed into luxury condominiums, and had already been transferred to the consultancy company based on a value of RM280 million.

It is learnt that the state government had also identified another lot worth RM25 million which is to be used as payment to the same company as full settlement of the RM305 million.

Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki confirmed that the graft busters were looking into the land swap deal.

He, however, declined to comment further as the matter was pending investigation.

“For now, we are reviewing the documents seized by investigators during raids at several locations in Penang on Tuesday.

“Our main focus is to investigate whether there is an element of corruption and abuse of power in the transaction,” he added.

It is learnt more arrests are expected as the MACC intensifies its probe into the controversial project.

Among those on their radar are the top guns of the companies under investigation as well as state government officials.

“The arrests of two company directors, both with a Datuk title, in Penang and Putrajaya are just the tip of the iceberg.

“More arrests will be made as the investigation into the matter progresses.”

The source said the investigation was still in the early stages and investigators are gathering evidence to strenghten their case.

“They (the investigators) are looking through the documents seized in raids in several state government offices and companies here.”

On Tuesday, the MACC raided state government offices in Komtar, which are involved in the proposed Penang undersea tunnel project.

Also raided in the operation which began at 9am were several companies with connections to the project.

The raids were conducted following new leads.

It is learnt that the MACC raided the State Secretary Office, the state Public Works Department, the state Valuation Department and the state Land and Mines Department here.

Several companies, which included Ewin-Zenith Sdn Bhd, 555 Capital Sdn Bhd and Consortium Zenith, were also raided here.

Last July, Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Datuk Huan Cheng Guan had submitted evidence of malfeasance related to the tunnel project.

Huan again presented new evidence to the MACC to aid its probe last week.

The 7.2km undersea tunnel is part of the RM6.3 billion project undertaken by Consortium Zenith.

The project also included three paired roads.

The project had caused numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing them.

*This is a Berita Harian exclusive story*


Source: NST/ http://bit.ly/2D18149

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