1MDB audit report was final version, former A-G tells court

Former prime minister Najib Razak is accused of abusing his power in order to obtain immunity from legal action and causing amendments to the finalised 1MDB audit report. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Former auditor-general (A-G) Ambrin Buang told the High Court in Najib Razak’s 1MDB audit report trial today that the report on the sovereign fund which the National Audit Department was supposed to present to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in February 2016 was the final version.

He affirmed this when asked by ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram whether the report was in draft form.

“There were attempts to make it look as if it was a draft report,” said Sri Ram, referring to the former prime minister’s earlier contention that the report was in draft format.

Najib earlier sought to strike out the charge against him, but the court has yet to deliver its decision.

Sri Ram: If the meetings between Feb 22 and 24 did not take place, which report would be presented before PAC?

Ambrin: The final one in February.

Amrbin earlier testified that he met Najib at the Prime Minister’s Office on Feb 22, 2016, where he informed Najib about two 2014 financial statements from 1MDB.

He said Najib promised him that the authorities would “get to the bottom of this”.

He added that Najib had not ordered him to remove the two statements from the report.

Amrbin and his officers also attended a meeting chaired by then-chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa on Feb 24, along with Najib’s principle private secretary at the time, Shukry Mohd Salleh, senior treasury officials, an official from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

After the meeting, the auditors agreed to remove four items, including the two sets of financial statements, from the final report.

The National Audit Department tabled its 1MDB findings before PAC from March 4 to 7, 2016.

Najib is accused of abusing his power in order to obtain immunity from legal action and causing amendments to the finalised 1MDB audit report before it was tabled to the PAC. Arul Kanda is accused of abetting him.

Earlier, when questioned by Arul Kanda’s lawyer N Sivananthan, Ambrin said 1MDB’s general counsel at the time, Ivan Chen, had requested another exit conference during the conference the auditors had held with 1MDB management staff on Dec 16, 2015.

While the second conference did not take place, Ambrin said the audit department had given 1MDB until January 2016 to furnish the relevant documents.

“We gave them ample time and, initially, we wanted to finish our auditing by 2015 but we waited until January,” he said.

When further questioned by Sivananthan, he said as far as the auditors were concerned, the Feb 24, 2016 meeting at the chief secretary’s office was not an exit conference.

He also said he disliked the fact that Arul Kanda was allowed to go through the 1MDB audit report “paragraph by paragraph” with his officers.

“I think it was unethical. I cannot accept that,” he said, when asked about Arul Kanda’s requests to the government auditors.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan on Aug 24.