KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 -- Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang told the High Court that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked him not to enter the issue on the two versions of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial statements in the final audit report of the company.
He said the former prime minister had made the request after promising that the relevant authorities would conduct a comprehensive investigation ‘and get to the bottom of this as soon’ as possible.
The sixth prosecution witness in the trial of Najib and 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy on the charge of amending the final 1MDB audit report said, Najib made the request at a meeting at his (Najib’s) office on Feb 22, 2016.
According to Ambrin, in the meeting, which was also attended by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamza and Najib’s former principal private secretary, Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh, the former prime minister had asked him to tell what were the significant and serious issues in the final 1MDB audit report.
The witness said he then had raised the issue on the two versions of the 1MDB financial statements which were different for the financial year ending March 31, 2014.
‘’The two different versions of the financial statement were, one version which was sent to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) which stated that 1MDB had used the fund which was obtained in the SPC (Segregated Portfolio Company) investment to pay the debts of 1MDB and used as 1MDB working capital.
‘’One more version of the financial statement was sent to the Ministry of Finance (MOF), Deutsche Bank and Ambank which stated that the fund which was obtained from the investment of SPC was still in 1MDB’s keeping,’’ he said in the examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Rozaliana Zakaria at the trial which was entering the fifth day.
Ambrin, 70, when reading his witness statement, said he also raised the issue of two different 1MDB financial statements when attending a meeting at Ali’s office on Feb 24, 2016 which was held to discuss about the last 1MDB audit report and other issues arising.
According to Ambrin, the meeting, which was chaired by Ali, was also attended by the Attorney-General Chambers’ representative Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, former Treasury Deputy Secretary General (Investment) Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Isa Hussain and MOF representative, namely, Asri Hamidon, Arul Kanda, Ali’s Senior Confidential Secretary Datuk Norazman Ayob and Shukry.
‘’(During the meeting) the National Audit Department (JAN) was of the view that a company cannot have two financial statement for the same year because it will confuse numerous parties, for example, shareholders, banks and other parties. At that time, Arul Kanda often gave his views on the issue and urged that the issue on the two versions of 1MDB financial statements be excluded from the 1MDB audit report.
‘’Mr Arul Kanda also agreed that the issue be reported to the authorities. On the part of JAN, the aim of the issue of the 1MDB financial statements ending March 2014 to be entered into the 1MDB audit report was to enable the matter to be handed to the authorities concerned such as PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) and MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) to conduct further investigation,’’ he said.
Ambrin, who is now the chairman of the Special Investigation Committee on Governance, Procurement and Finance in the Prime Minister’s Department, said Ali then directed Mohd Isa to lodge a police report on the two versions of the financial statement, and at that time, he said he was confident and did not doubt their commitment to lodge a police report.
Commenting further on Najib’s request not to enter the issue of two versions of the financial statements into the 1MDB auditing report, the witness, who held the post of Auditor-General for 12 years since 2006, said as the Auditor-General and civil servant, he saw Najib’s request as prime minister as something that must be implemented without any prejudice.
‘’The implication of dropping facts from the 1MDB auditing report is very serious but it was dropped to carry out the request of Datuk Seri Najib with the assurance that he would investigate ‘to the bottom of this’.
“In fact, there were also follow up meetings which confirmed that an action to investigate matters raised by the 1MDB auditing report would be conducted by the authorities,’’ he said.
Najib, 66, was charged with using his office to direct the amendment of the final 1MDB auditing report before it was tabled before the National Public Accounts Committee (PAC), to avoid any action against him.
He was charged, in his capacity as a public servant, namely, prime minister, of using his post to obtain a bribe for himself, namely, protection from disciplinary, civil or criminal actions that might be taken against him over 1MDB, by directing that the final 1MDB auditing report, which was being prepared, to be amended before the report was finalised and tabled to PAC, in which he had a direct interest.
Najib was charged with committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Putrajaya between Feb 22, 2016 and Feb 26, 2016.
The charge under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act 2009 which was punishable under Section 24(1) of the same act, provided a maximum 20 year jail and fine of five times the value of the bribe.
Arul Kanda was charged to be in cahoot with Najib, amending the report, to protect the former prime minister from disciplinary, civil or criminal actions linked to 1MDB, at the same place and time under Section 28(1)(c) of the MACC Act 2009 which was read together with Section 23(1) & 24(1) of the same act which provided similar punishments if found guilty.
The trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues tomorrow.