Have common 1MDB audit report meeting transcript, orders judge

Former prime minister Najib Razak and 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy have been charged with tampering with the 1MDB audit report.

KUALA LUMPUR: The judge in Najib Razak’s 1MDB audit report-tampering trial today directed the prosecution and defence to come up with a common transcript of a meeting between government officials and the then 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy to discuss changes to a draft copy of the 1MDB audit report.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said this after lawyers Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and N Sivananthan, representing Najib and Arul Kanda respectively, disputed the transcript presented by the prosecution team.

Shafee said his team was preparing its own version and that the prosecution’s transcript was “very bad” and that “some areas made no sense”.

Ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram then told the court that the prosecution and defence team would work on “an improved version” by next Monday.

The defence lawyers said they would only cross-examine the then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa after both defence and prosecution had come up with the same transcript version.

Ali had previously told the court that a meeting was held between him, government officials and Arul Kanda on Feb 24, 2016 on Najib’s request.

Ali said Najib had raised concerns about two conflicting financial statements of 1MDB for 2014.

“During the meeting at my office, other matters came up from the PMO’s representative and also Arul Kanda,” he said, when questioned by ad-hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram about the Feb 24 meeting.

The court had also listened to the recording of the Feb 24 meeting where Ali told those who attended —such as Arul Kanda, then auditor-general Ambrin Buang, Najib’s then principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh, then Audit Department officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, then Treasury senior officer Mohmad Isa Hussain as well as then AGC officer Dzulkifli Ahmad — that the purpose of their meeting was to discuss changes to the 1MDB audit report.

Ambrin and Saadatul, throughout the two-hour meeting, were questioning Arul Kanda on the company’s state of affairs.

Ambrin was heard saying that his department had found discrepancies in 1MDB’s accounts and that of its subsidiary.

Today, National Audit Department director Nor Salwani Muhammad told the court that the former prime minister was given a draft copy of the final audit report in February 2016.

Nor Salwani said the draft copy was handed to Najib and his then principal private secretary, Shukry, on Feb 22, 2016.

She said other recipients were Ali, Arul Kanda, then Ambrin, and a representative of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“Our department kept one copy that was later handed to Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad (Ambrin’s successor). The same copy was later surrendered to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission,” Salwani said.

Salwani said the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had asked the Audit Department to conduct an audit on the sovereign fund’s accounts on Feb 27, 2015.

“Our scope of audit covered the government’s guarantees for 1MDB, the company’s asset value, payment as well as their financial reports from 2010 to 2014,” she added.

The hearing continues before Zaini tomorrow.

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. The alleged offence took place at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.

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