KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court heard today that former prime minister Najib Razak benefited from changes made to the 1MDB audit report that was scheduled to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee.
Former audit performance director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, who is the seventh prosecution witness, said this when she was questioned by ad-hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.
Sri Ram: Was exhibit 81 tampered (original report) with and exhibit 84 produced to protect the accused, Najib?
Sri Ram: What did you understand when Ali (then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa) said ‘we must take care of our leadership?
Nafisah: The prime minister (Najib).
The witness said she knew Najib was chairman of the 1MDB advisory board when he was prime minister and finance minister.
Nafisah was testifying against Najib who 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, former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetment.
Ali, who had earlier testified, said a meeting was held on Feb 24 after Najib instructed him to conduct a coordination meeting between the National Audit Department (NAD) and Arul Kanda as he was dissatisfied with the 1MDB report.
Ali chaired the meeting in the presence of Arul, Mohamed Isa Hussain and Asri Hamdin (from the Treasury), Dzulkilfi Ahmad (Attorney-General’s Chambers), and Shukury Mohd Salleh (Najib’s then private secretary).
Nafisah and Ambrin represented the NAD.
She said the “other group” (referring to Arul and the civil servants) disagreed with the findings of the audit team and as a result, four issues were asked to be removed from the report.
They were two conflicting versions of the 1MDB financial statement for 2014; an agreement between Country Groups Securities Thailand and ACM Time Limited; the presence of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho in one of the 1MDB board meetings; and the delay in the issuance of a RM5 billion bond.
“They disagreed with our findings because we gave our opinions. It is our responsibility to defend the report,” she told the court.
The report was initially scheduled to be presented to the PAC on Feb 24 but was only tabled on March 4 and 7, 2016.
Meanwhile, lawyer N Sivananthan, appearing for Arul Kanda, told the court that he would recall witnesses to cross examine them if his client was not asked to testify for the prosecution.
On Nov 18, Sri Ram told trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that the public prosecutor would apply in writing under Section 63 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act to call Arul to testify on the prosecution’s behalf.
Trial before Zaini continues.