Tan Sri Ambrin Buang (middle)
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 -- Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang told the High Court here today that his conscience was clear as far as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report was concerned, despite being pressured to agree to it.
Ambrin, 70, testified that he had no choice with regard to amending the audit report due to national interest issues raised by other attendees at the 1MDB audit report coordination meeting on Feb 24, 2016.
The sixth prosecution witness said this during cross-examination by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the sixth day of the trial of Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy on alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.
Quizzed by Muhammad Shafee whether Ambrin agreeing to the amendments compromised his integrity, the witness countered that he was talking about the National Audit Department's (NAD) major findings on 1MDB, such as its cash flow problems and poor governance.
“In this particular case, there was no choice. I was under pressure to do the amendments due to national interest (raised by other attendees at the meeting)," he said.
Those present at the meeting included Arul Kanda, then Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa and representatives from several agencies.
Muhammad Shafee then asked what choice the witness had if someone pushed him to do illegal acts, such as during the February 2016 meeting, which resulted in the removal of four important but controversial points points from the 1MDB final audit report.
“I made the amendments as auditor-general based on my judgment and facts presented to us (NAD) at that particular time. As I've said, facts are facts,” Ambrin said.
Muhammad Shafee then queried why Ambrin did not make a police report on the matter, to which the witness replied it did not occur to him at that time.
Muhammad Shafee: Do you know that if you didn't lodge a police report, you yourself have committed an offence
Ambrin: No, I'm not aware.
The witness also testified that he thought that Najib was not aware of the two conflicting versions of 1MDB financial statements in the final audit report of the company until he brought up the matter to the former prime minister during a Feb 22, 2016 meeting at Najib’s office.
When asked how was Najib’s demeanour when he was told about the two versions of 1MDB financial statements, Ambrin said he did not watch the former's facial expression and he did not know whether he was surprised or not.
The witness also testified that he had no issue with NAD officer Nor Salwani Muhammad’s action in recording the coordination meeting without permission from the chairman of the meeting.
“To me, it's not necessary to ask for permission because the whole intention was for her to take notes for our department. It was for our department's internal use,” Ambrin said.
Previously, Nor Salwani in her testimony as the fifth prosecution witness had admitted to placing the audio recorder in the meeting room just before the meeting was about to start.
Najib, 66, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented before the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
Both men have been charged under provisions of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which carry a maximum jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The trial before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Jan 9, 2020.