Najib altered 1MDB audit report to hide the truth, says prosecution

Former prime minister Najib Razak arrives at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in the 1MDB audit report tampering case told the High Court here today that former prime minister Najib Razak had altered the sovereign fund’s audit report in 2016 in order to prevent the public from knowing the truth.

Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said money belonging to 1MDB had flowed into the account of Good Star Ltd, controlled by businessman Low Taek Jho whom he described as Najib’s “mirror image”.

He said Najib had also received large amounts of money belonging to 1MDB while some went to his stepson Riza Aziz.

“Although he knew that the money in question belonged to 1MDB, he lied to the world at large that it was a donation from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Sri Ram said in early July 2015, when the 1MDB scandal broke, Najib began to cover his tracks and those of Low in the business and affairs of the government-linked company.

“His objective was to conceal the truth,” he said in his opening statement read before trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

In due course, he said, the auditor-general ordered the report on 1MDB prepared, in which there were passages that caused concern to Najib despite being factually accurate.

“He became nonplussed, if not agitated. He took steps to have those passages altered or removed. What happened was abnormal.

“Despite the fact that the report was ready to be placed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, a meeting was convened on Feb 24, 2016 at Najib’s behest,” he said.

He said the meeting was chaired by then-chief secretary to the government Ali Hamza, and that the relevant passages were amended or removed as a result.

He said former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy had abetted Najib in this act, and that the public prosecutor would call Arul to give evidence on the prosecution’s behalf at the appropriate stage.

He added that the prosecution would prove, whether by direct or circumstantial evidence, the extent to which the accused went to remove material from an official record to prevent the disclosure of the true state of affairs.

“Najib knew, or it was certainly within his contemplation, that if the truth emerged, he would be exposed to civil or criminal liability for the reasons already stated,” he said.

Sri Ram said Najib had done so as “shadow director of 1MDB” with corrupt intent to obtain gratification, as stated under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

Najib is accused of using his position to obtain immunity from legal action in relation to allegations that he tampered with the 1MDB audit report between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Arul is charged with abetting Najib in tampering with the report before it was tabled to PAC.

Najib is also standing trial for 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power charges over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

The money laundering and abuse of power trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah will resume in January.