Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim has been cleared of allegations that he had received a RM3 million bribe to help ‘cover up’ a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the Penang undersea tunnel project. (Pix by RAMDZAN MASIAM)

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim has been cleared of allegations that he had received a RM3 million bribe to help ‘cover up’ a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe into the Penang undersea tunnel project.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki said the commission’s investigation showed no evidence of Azeez’s involvement in the matter, and that the accusations were deemed as ‘baseless.’

Azam said the commission had retrieved documents to aid their investigation on the case, and their subsequent probe had cleared Azeez.

“Based on our investigations, Azeez did not have any direct links to the Penang undersea tunnel project or those closely related to the project’s construction. MACC has verified the documents gathered pertaining to the case, before arriving at the decision,” said Azam.

He said Azeez, who is also Tabung Haji chairman, has nothing to do with the tunnel project and did not receive the alleged bribe.

“MACC has no reason to continue its probe as Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC) itself has withdrawn its letter of demand and has apologised to Abdul Azeez for the mistake on its part,” he said.

Azeez had maintained his innocence in the matter, and denied ever having any dealings with the company or its senior management.

Azeez, who had lodged a police report alleging that his name was being used by unscrupulous parties, said CZC withdrew its letter of demand it had served on him, dated Feb 27.

He said CZC had retracted claims made in a letter issued to his lawyer on March 3 and apologised through the company’s lawyer. The company reportedly also offered to help Azeez clear his name.

The allegation came about after a 64-year-old Datuk was remanded for four days from March 3 in connection with an alleged RM3mil bribe to close investigations involving the tunnel project.

Prior to that, on Feb 27, a 37-year-old Datuk Seri was also picked up for allegedly receiving RM19mil to influence the MACC to close its investigation.

MACC also froze four bank accounts totalling RM3.6mil and seized four vehicles worth RM1.3mil.

The controversial Penang undersea tunnel project, measuring 6km, was initially planned to link Bagan Ajam in Butterworth with the scenic Gurney Drive on the island. The project was supposed to see the construction of three paired highways which essentially link Gurney Drive, Air Itam and the tourism belt of Batu Ferringhi to the sole expressway on the island – The Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

However, it has since come under MACC investigation, following allegations of impropriety over the high cost involved in conducting the feasibility studies as well as the 22-month delay in completing it.