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1MDB Audit Report Trial – Day 4: Audit officer slipped recorder into secret meeting on 1MDB audit report

November 22, 2019

* Ex-Auditor General agreed to remove Najib’s meeting with Agong from 1MDB audit report, recording shows
* Former A-G: 1MDB failed to give documents, delayed audit from five months to a year
* Ambrin: Final 1MDB audit report classified under OSA to prevent leaks
* I was director but had no knowledge of what went on in Zahid’s org, court told
* Chinese nationals risk daring stunts to escape immigration raid in Cyberjaya  

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Audit officer slipped recorder into secret meeting on 1MDB audit report
  • Najib’s phone rings, interrupts proceedings
  • Ambrin looked sad with order to amend the final audit report
  • Officer kept copy of original audit report despite order to destroy all
  • Original 1MDB audit report tendered as evidence in court

Audit officer slipped recorder into secret meeting on 1MDB audit report

11.15am – National Audit Department (NAD) officer Nor Salwani Muhammad makes an explosive admission in court, testifying that the audio recording of a meeting which discussed 1MDB audit report in Feb 2016 was made by her.

She tells the court that she had slipped a recording device into the pencil box of her then superior Saadatul Nafisah as she (Salwani) was not allowed to be in the room.

This was done without Saadatul’s knowledge, Salwani says, adding that she did so as she needed to take the minutes of the meeting because it involved discussions about 1MDB audit report that was prepared by her team.

Salwani was the coordinator for NAD’s special team that was tasked to conduct audit on the sovereign wealth fund in 2015. She served under Saadatul who was the team’s chief.

This was the audio recording of Feb 24, 2016 meeting which was chaired by the then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa and attended by Saadatul, then auditor-general Ambrin Buang, then chief private secretary to prime minister Shukry Salleh, then1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy and Attorney-General’s Chambers officer Dzulkifli Ahmad, among others.

It was this recording, which was of about 2 hours and 45 minutes duration, which was played to the court yesterday.

Salwani completes reading from her witness statement

10.58am – National Audit Department officer Nor Salwani Muhammad finishes reading her witness statement.

Najib’s phone rings, interrupts proceedings

10.50am – The ringing of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s phone temporarily brings proceedings to a halt.

Najib is then seen quickly silencing the phone and lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram says the phone should be seized.

National Audit Department (NAD) officer Nor Salwani resumes reading from her witness statement following the interruption.

Ambrin looked sad with order to amend the final audit report

10.23am – The High Court hears from the fifth prosecution witness that then auditor-general Ambrin Buang looked sad when be received the order to remove three issues from the 1MDB final audit report on Feb 24, 2016.

National Audit Department (NAD) officer Nor Salwani Muhammad testifies during examination-in-chief by DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib that Ambrin was troubled with the order given to remove the issues from the report.

“What I mean by looking troubled was that he (Ambrin) looked sad and felt challenged with what happened.

“This happened when he was issuing the order (to me) and after the meeting on Feb 24, 2016,” Salwani says.

The court hears that on Feb 24, 2016, a meeting attended by Ambrin, then chief secretary Ali Hamsa, then 1MDB CEO K Arul Kanda, among others.

In the meeting on Feb 24, 2016, attended by several people including Ambrin, then chief secretary to government Ali Hamsa and then 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, a decision was reached to remove several issues from the 1MDB final audit report, among them being the existence of two conflicting financial statements for 2014.

Officer kept copy of original audit report despite order to destroy all

10.15am – The court hears from National Audit Department’s Nor Salwani Muhammad that she had held onto one of the 60 original copies of 1MDB audit report against the order by her superior to destroy all of them.

She testifies that the copy, which has the watermark label “09” and tendered in court today, was the one that went into the hands of then newly-minted auditor-general Madinah Mohamad (photo) in 2017.

The copy was also the one that was later handed to MACC to assist the investigation into the alleged tampering of the report, which is the subject of this trial.

“The 1MDB Audit Report watermarked ’09’ was supposed to be destroyed to prevent a leak of information as what had been reported by the media then, and I was ordered by Tan Sri Ambrin (Buang) to follow the order of the CGSO (Chief Government Security Office) as per the Official Secrets Act.

“I kept the report to be given to the new auditor-general. With pure intention, I had surrendered the report watermarked ’09’ to allow the new auditor-general to get the whole picture about the audit findings,” says Salwani.

According to her, the copy was also kept to serve as a reference in case it is needed, as the five other copies that were distributed on Feb 22, 2016, to the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and four others were never returned to NAD to be destroyed.

Original 1MDB audit report tendered as evidence in court

10.10am – The hearing today starts with the prosecution tendering a volume of the original 1MDB audit report printed by the National Audit Department (NAD) on Feb 21, 2016.

This is the only surviving copy of the original report in NAD’s possession which was supposed to have been destroyed and replaced by amended version later.

The evidence was admitted in the court through testimony of NAD officer Nor Salwani Muhammad this morning, who confirmed that it was one of 60 copies printed by NAD then.

For the record, the witness yesterday testified that NAD only made 60 copies of the report, six of which were distributed to Najib, who was the then prime minister, his chief private secretary Shukry Salleh, Ali Hamsa (then chief secretary to the government), Arul Kanda (then 1MDB CEO), Ambrin Buang (then auditor-general), and Dzulkifli Ahmad (then an officer of Attorney-General’s Chambers) on Feb 22, 2016.

Najib, Arul Kanda enter the dock as proceedings begin

10.06am – Accused Najib Abdul Razak and co-accused Arul Kanda enters the dock as proceedings begin.

9.53am – Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy enters the High Court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to await proceedings to begin.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The fourth day of the 1MDB final audit report tampering trial of ex-prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and the sovereign wealth fund’s former CEO K Arul Kanda will begin with the continuing testimony of National Audit Department (NAD) audit director (governance sector) Nor Salwani Muhammad.

As proceedings before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan resumes at 10am this morning, the fifth prosecution witness will continue to read out from her witness statement during examination-in-chief by lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram.

Yesterday, she testified that in Feb 2016, 60 copies of the draft 1MDB audit report were printed, with six of these copies given to then auditor-general Ambrin Buang. Ambrin kept one copy and the remaining five were distributed to Najib, his then-chief private secretary Shukry Salleh, Arul Kanda, then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa and Dzulkifli Ahmad, then officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Nor Salwani also told the court that all the other copies had been destroyed, except for one which was surrendered to the MACC on Nov 2, 2018.

Yesterday, the court also allowed an application by Najib and Arul Kanda’s defence teams to defer cross-examination of the fourth witness, Ali, in order to allow them to work with the prosecution to come up with a finalised version of the transcript of an audio recording of a crucial meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

The Feb 24, 2016, meeting attended by Ali, Arul Kanda and Ambrin among others, had purportedly seen a decision made to remove certain controversial issues from the 1MDB final audit report.

The 1MDB final audit report was sought by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as part of their then inquiry into the 1MDB scandal.

The audio recording, which purportedly recorded the discussions at said meeting, was replayed during open-court proceedings yesterday.

LINK

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