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A-G explains why 1MDB report is under OSA

 | July 25, 2016

He says the National Audit Department (NAD) expected the final report to be leaked to the public and took the precaution to classify it as an official secret.

ambrin-buang-rafiziKUALA LUMPUR: Auditor-General (A-G) Ambrin Buang told the Sessions Court on Monday that he took steps to classify the 1MDB final audit report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) because there was a leakage in the interim report last year.

“My department, the National Audit Department (NAD), expected the final report to be also leaked to the public.

“Based on this, we sought advice. We were advised to classify it so that the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) can conduct its proceedings without interference. It would also protect the integrity of the NAD,” he told Deputy Public Prosecutor Abazafree Abbas.

He was testifying as the fifth prosecution witness in the trial of Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, who is facing two charges of allegedly possessing and leaking classified documents.

He was charged under Sections 8(1)(c) and 8(1)(e)(iii) of the OSA for having in his possession and exposing page 98 of the 1MDB audit report at a press conference.

He was said to have committed the act at the Parliament building between March 24 and 28 in the late afternoon.

If convicted, he will face a jail term of up to seven years.

Ambrin added he was given the authority by the prime minister in 2012 to stamp the report as secret.

“I classified the report under OSA in January before the final report was debated,” he said.

When quizzed by Abazafree on the current status of the 1MDB report, whether it was still a classified document, Ambrin confirmed it was still under the OSA.

Abazafree: What’s the reason (to still be under OSA)?

Ambrin: There’s no need to de-classify. PAC decided the 1MDB report does not need to be included in the PAC report. I respect the decision.

During cross examination by Rafizi’s lawyer, Gobind Singh, Ambrin told the court that 1MDB is one of the government-owned companies gazetted to be audited by his office.

“The audit on 1MDB is a special audit.

“We audited because it was a request from certain bodies like the Cabinet and PAC. The report that we prepared was presented straight to PAC.”

He added it was up to PAC if they want to produce it before the lower house (Parliament).

Gobind asked Ambrin if his decision not to declassify was “against the law”.

The question was objected to by Abazafree, who said it was not within Ambrin’s capacity as a witness to answer it.

Despite the objection, Sessions Court Judge Zulqarnian Hassan allowed Gobind to proceed with the question.

Gobind: Tan Sri had mentioned earlier that you respect PAC’s decision to place the 1MDB report under OSA. Was your decision against Article 107(1) of the Federal Constitution? It states the A-G’s reports should be submitted before the Agong and presented before Parliament.

Ambrin: I am not well-versed (with the law), whether my decision to respect the PAC decision was against the Constitution.

The A-G also confirmed the documents which Rafizi produced at the press conference were from his report.

Gobind asked him if the contents in the report were a basis for criminal charges.

“I refrain from answering that,” Ambrin answered.

The hearing continues on Tuesday before judge Zulqarnian.

 


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