MACC 'surprised' over Guan Eng's acquittal over RM2.8m Penang bungalow case

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 3): The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it is "very surprised" by the Penang High Court's decision to acquit Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over an allegation of corruption related to the purchase of a RM2.8 million bungalow on the island.

"MACC would like to stress that the decision to withdraw the charge against the case was decided by the Attorney-General's chambers and not by the MACC," the agency said in a statement today.

Earlier today, Penang High Court acquitted Lim and Phang over an allegation of irregularities and elements of corruption involved in the transaction, in which Lim was said to have bought a bungalow from Phang at below the current market price of RM4.27 million.

Lim's acquittal was following an application by the deputy public prosecutor to withdraw the case on a discharge basis, but not amounting to an acquittal.

However, High Court Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail granted Lim a full acquittal, saying that the criminal charge "cannot be hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely".

The prosecution team was led by Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, while Lim was represented by lead counsel Ramkarpal Singh, and Phang by Datuk V. Sithambaram.

On June 30, 2016, Lim had claimed two trials to using his position as a public officer, as the Penang Chief Minister, to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng.

Lim was charged under two existing laws: Section 165 of the Penal Code which is related to offences by a public servant obtaining any valuable items in a suspicious manner, and Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 that deals with abuse of power.

As for Phang, she was charged under Section 165 of the Penal Code which provides an imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.