Ambrin Buang said although he was unhappy about the instructions from the former KSN, due regard was given to him based on the position he held.
Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that he was asked by former Chief Secretary to the Government (KSN) Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa to remove his opinion in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report.
The sixth prosecution witness said Ali made the request during the 1MDB Audit Report coordination meeting, which was held on the instruction of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 24, 2016.
Ambrin, who is the former auditor-general (A-G), told the court that if it hadn’t been for a meeting that took place with Ali Hamsa, the National Audit Department would have already presented the 1MDB February 2016 report to Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC), scheduled for the same date.
Ambrin was under re-examination by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who had asked him to clarify whether 1MDB’s February 2016 audit report was a draft or already finalised and ready to be presented.
Sri Ram: Attempts have been made to make this report as a draft interim report, so can you tell us whether this is the final report that was supposed to be given to the PAC on February 24, 2016?
Ambrin: This (February 1MDB report) is the final report. It was supposed to be tabled to the PAC.
Sri Ram: If the meetings of February 22 and 24 had not taken place, which documents would have gone to the PAC?
Ambrin: The final report.
The February 24, 2016 meeting eventually resulted in the removal of four items in the report including 1MDB’s two conflicting 2014 financial statements.
A new amended report was completed in March of 2016 by the NAD and subsequently presented to the PAC.
Ambrin said although he was unhappy about the instructions from Ali Hamsa, due regard was given to him based on the position he held.
Ambrin also voiced his unhappiness with Ali today, especially over certain remarks the latter made when a meeting on the 1MDB audit report was held.
Touching on the remarks, Ambrin said Ali had told him to keep his opinion about certain things concerning 1MDB to himself.
“I just cannot accept what was said…he said I should keep my opinions to myself or write a book about it after I retired. Ali Hamsa said this.
“He wanted to ensure our (the NAD) opinion (on 1MDB) was taken out,” he said when he was later crossed-examined by former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s lead counsel, Datuk N Sivananthan.
Ambrin was testifying in the trial of Najib, 67, who was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report which was already ‘finalised’ by the A-G before the report was ‘finalised again’ and presented before the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him.
Arul Kanda, 44, was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB.
They were charged under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides a 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.
Sivananthan: So this was a historical problem which the NAD faced when dealing with 1MDB?
Sivananthan: It happened way before Arul Kanda joined 1MDB
Sivananthan: Do you know that Arul Kanda was brought in to sort out the debt issues faced by 1MDB?
Ambrin: I don’t know. That is a matter between him and his employer.
Touching on how Arul Kanda had been allowed by Ali to go through the 1MDB audit report page by page and paragraph by paragraph before it was published, Ambrin said he could not accept it as the instruction was unethical.
Ambrin stated that as the chief federal auditor, he remains the ultimate decision-maker on any audit report and stressed that he does not usually entertain requests from any auditee.
On June 16, Ali, who was the fourth prosecution witness testified that he and Arul Kanda never pressured or threatened Ambrin to amend the 1MDB audit report.
Later on, Sivananthan told judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that Arul Kanda’s defence team has wrapped up cross-examination of Ambrin.
The lawyer informed the court that Arul Kanda’s defence team, however, still reserved its right to recall Ambrin for further cross-examination, depending on further developments during the trial.
The hearing continues on Aug 24.
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