PM’s special officer withdraws appeal over 1MDB audit report

PUTRAJAYA: A special officer to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today withdrew his appeal against the refusal by the High Court early this year to declassify the auditor-general’s (A-G) report on 1MDB which had then been placed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Zahid Mat Arip.

Lawyer Irzan Izzat, who represented Zahid Md Arip, told the Court of Appeal bench that his client was not pursuing the matter as the Pakatan Harapan government, which was swept into power on May 9, had now made the report public.

Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, who represented the A-G and the then prime minister Najib Razak, said he had no objection.

Bench chairman Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid then struck out the appeal with no order to costs.

Shamsul later told reporters the government took the position that the appeal was now academic.

On Jan 24, High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said dismissed Zahid’s application. Kamaluddin, now a Court of Appeal judge, had said then that Zahid had failed to establish he had legal rights to ask for a declassification of the report.

Zahid, in his application filed against Najib and the A-G in 2016, had said classifying the audit report as a government secret was a breach of the law.

He said the audit report should be presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when it was completed.

Zahid said there was a conflict of interest in classifying the audit report as a government secret as Najib was alleged to have been involved in the scandal involving 1MDB.

Zahid cited Article 107 (1) of the Federal Constitution that states that a report from the A-G must be submitted to the king after it is debated in Parliament and subsequently made public.

The report, which was declassified on May 15, revealed that senior officials at 1MDB had withheld information from its board and had taken some decisions without the board’s approval.

Reports emerged by that time that about US$700 million from 1MDB had gone to Najib’s personal bank accounts.

On Sept 20, Najib was slapped with 25 charges in connection with the alleged transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars into his bank account from 1MDB.

He was charged in the Sessions Court with 21 counts of money laundering for transferring illegal funds to his bank account and subsequently using the money.

He was said to have received and used the illegal money during his term of office between 2011 and 2014.