KUALA LUMPUR: 1MDB’s former auditors KPMG had insisted on meeting then prime minister Najib Razak over the company’s 2013 financial statement, the High Court was told.
Former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir, a witness in Najib’s 1MDB corruption trial, said KPMG partner Ahmad Nasri Abdul Wahab made the request to see Najib some time in November 2013.
He said the auditors had raised questions on 1MDB’s US$2.3 billion investment in Brazen Sky Ltd and refused to sign off on its 2013 financial statement.
“I was surprised when Nasri said this in a phone call. I asked him why they wanted to meet the prime minister.
“He told me that they wanted to hear from the prime minister on the US$2.3 billion investment and ‘if the PM said yes, we will sign off’,” he said when cross-examined by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed.
Azmi said he informed fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, about KPMG’s request to meet Najib.
“He (Low) also questioned me why they wanted to meet the prime minister.
“He was pressuring me and kept asking ‘sure ah?’ when I mentioned that KPMG might sign off on the financial statement after hearing from the prime minister,” he said.
The court previously heard that KPMG’s managing partner, Johan Idris, met Najib at his Langgak Duta house on Dec 15, 2013, as the company wanted to hear his explanation on the Brazen Sky investment.
However, after the Langgak Duta meeting, KPMG still refused to sign off on the 2013 financial statement, prompting 1MDB to replace KPMG with Deloitte.
Wan Aizuddin asked Azmi why he called Low to arrange the meeting with KPMG, instead of Azlin Alias, Najib’s then principal private secretary.
Azmi replied that members of the 1MDB management “generally” provided updates to Low, especially “in dealing with the prime minister”.
“None of us dealt with the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office). It was through him,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Mustaffa P Kunyalam told the court that the prosecution will call Johan to testify after Azmi had completed his testimony.
Najib is standing trial on 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited into his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.
The hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.