KUALA LUMPUR: A former federal auditor told Najib Razak’s 1MDB audit report tampering hearing today that the National Audit Department was not pressured into removing red flag content in the audit report on the sovereign fund.
Saadatul Nafisah Ahmad Bashir said this in response to a question from Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the former prime minister’s lawyer, regarding her testimony before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Dec 6, 2018.
Shafee noted that PAC members, who comprised MPs from PKR, DAP and Umno, had repeatedly “grilled” Nafisah on the government auditors’ decision to drop certain issues from its final audit report.
“Members like Steven Chong (Tebrau MP), Wong Chen (Subang MP), William Leong (Selayang MP), Wong Kah Woh (Ipoh Timur MP), Wong Shu Qi (Kluang MP) and Ahmad Hamzah (Jasin MP) questioned you on the amendments.
“Chong and Leong asked why you accommodated the request for amendments but you said that the changes made were justified, especially on the two 2014 financial statements,” the lawyer said.
The witness answered in the affirmative, adding that the amendments had not compromised the report’s integrity.
Nafisah added: “During the meeting (on Feb 24, 2016) with KSN (chief secretary to government Ali Hamsa), it was agreed that the treasury’s representative would lodge a police report on the two financial statements.
“That was why the A-G (Auditor-General Ambrin Buang) agreed to remove the parts on the two financial statements as well as three other issues.”
Ali and Ambrin have testified that they attended the Feb 24, 2016 meeting at the chief secretary’s office along with Najib’s principal 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.
The court heard that four items, namely the two 2014 financial statements, issuance of Islamic medium-term notes, Islamic bonds’ secondary subscriber, as well as Low Taek Jho’s presence at 1MDB board meetings were removed from the audit report after the meeting.
Shafee also said Nafisah told the bipartisan committee that the 1MDB audit report could not be considered a “final” report as long as it was not laid before the PAC.
Nafisah today said she meant that the report was not a final one before going to the printer, but she agreed with the defence’s contention after Shafee showed her the Hansard which recorded what she had said when the Kluang MP pressed her on the issue.
The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan from Oct 12 to 14.
Earlier, the court replayed the recording of the Feb 24, 2016 meeting for audit department director Nor Salwani Muhammad. The prosecution will call 10 more witnesses to testify.
Najib is on trial for alleged abuse of power to obtain immunity from legal action and for causing amendments to be made to the finalised 1MDB audit report from the auditor-general before it was tabled to the PAC. Arul Kanda is accused of abetting him.