Malaysia’s ex-finance minister Lim Guan charged with bribery
Published: 03:06 PM, 7 August 2020 Updated: 05:32 PM, 7 August 2020
Lim Guan Eng, former finance minister of Malaysia, was charged with corruption over a $1.5 billion construction project; Photo: AFP
Lim Guan Eng, former finance minister of Malaysia, was charged with corruption over a $1.5 billion construction project on Friday, the latest government critic to be targeted since a scandal-plagued party returned to power, news agency AFP reported.
The case centers on a 6.3 billion ringgit ($1.5 billion) project to build an undersea tunnel in the northern state of Penang, which Lim led as chief minister from 2008 to 2018.
Earlier, Lim Guan Eng, who is also the leader of the opposition group the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was arrested on Thursday in connection with the allegations, however, pleaded not guilty to one count of soliciting a bribe from a businessman in exchange for his company being appointed for the project.
“This is a baseless allegation and it’s politically motivated to destroy and tarnish my reputation as well as, of course, my effort to execute my role as an opposition parliamentarian,” he told reporters after he was released on bail.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s former finance minister may face a jail term of up to 20 years if convicted. He will also face two more corruption charges next week, according to the Anti Corruption Commission of the country.
Officials had been investigating the case for some time, and Lim had already been questioned several times over it.
Lim was part of the Mahathir Mohamad-led 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).
Lim was charged with two counts of abuse of power in 2016 for approving a land deal and in the purchase of a bungalow at a below-market price, a move critics said was part of a crackdown on those opposed to then Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration.
The charges were dismissed after Najib was ousted in the 2018 election by the Mahathir-led coalition.