Former auditor-general (A-G) Madinah Mohamad told the High Court today that she was shocked when she found out her predecessor was ordered to amend the original 1MDB audit report.
She said her then officer Nor Salwani Muhammad informed her of this sometime in March 2017, a month after she took over as A-G from Ambrin Buang.
Madinah was the auditor-general from Feb 20, 2017 to Feb 22, 2019 and is now a witness in the 1MDB audit report trial of Najib Razak and Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
“She (Salwani) told me briefly and showed me two versions of the 1MDB audit report as we were walking into the meeting room.
“I was shocked when she said that Ambrin was ordered to amend the original report while Salwani was told to destroy all the original copies meant for PAC (Public Accounts Committee),” she said when questioned by Najib’s lawyer Shafee Abdullah on how she came to know of the “two versions”.
Madinah said Salwani did not destroy all the original copies and kept one “under her chair”.
The court had heard that Ambrin and National Audit Department (NAD) officers conducted their audit on 1MDB from March 9, 2015 to March 4, 2016.
They were supposed to table the findings to the PAC on Feb 24, 2016, but the meeting with PAC’s members did not take place.
Instead, Ambrin and several officers were told to attend a meeting at the then chief secretary Ali Hamsa’s office on the same day.
The others present were Arul Kanda, Najib’s former principal private secretary at the time Shukry Mohd Salleh, senior treasury officials and an official from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
After the meeting, four items were removed from the report. These involved two 2014 financial statements, the issuance of Islamic medium-term notes, the Islamic bonds’ secondary subscriber, and Low Taek Jho’s (Jho Low) presence at 1MDB board meetings.
Najib is standing trial for alleged abuse of power as the then prime minister and finance minister to obtain immunity from legal action and causing amendments to the finalised 1MDB audit report before it was tabled at the PAC meeting.
Arul Kanda is accused of abetting him.
When pressed further by Shafee on why she “did not do anything until after the new government came in”, Madinah said the 1MDB audit report was placed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
“We were not at liberty to divulge the report’s information, not even to those in NAD.
“Besides, there were no activities related to 1MDB (after the conversation with Salwani) and no reason to deep dive into 1MDB,” Madinah said.
Shafee then said as an A-G, Madinah had the authority to declassify the 1MDB report for a limited purpose, on “interest of nation” grounds.
“There was no reason for me (to declassify) as the incident happened before I took over,” she said.
However, Madinah’s answer did not sit well with Shafee, who insisted she did not take any measure after Salwani had told her about the “two versions” and orders for Ambrin to amend the original report.
Madinah reaffirmed that the tabling of the 1MDB report to PAC took place before she was A-G.
Ad-hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram then told the court that the witness had answered the question four times.
Shafee: But your report on Felda in 2017, you saw fit to brief the prime minister before the report was laid before the MPs’ tables?
Madinah: The Felda report was not under OSA, it was given an embargo status.
The hearing continues before judge Zaini Mazlan.
Source : FMT