Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy did not have the power to initiate investigations into irregularities found in the 1MDB audit report published in 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard today.
Testifying for the prosecution at Najib Razak’s 1MDB audit report-tampering trial, former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa acknowledged that Arul Kanda was the least senior officer at a high-level interdepartmental meeting on February 24, 2016, which discussed the 1MDB audit report.
The audio for the entire three-hour meeting was secretly recorded by National Audit Department (NAD) director Nor Salwani Muhammad and tendered as evidence last year.
When cross-examined by Arul Kanda’s lawyer, N. Sivanathan today, Ali, 64, said the meeting discussed a plan to lodge a police report over the conflicting financial statements by 1MDB revealed in the audit report.
Sivananthan: You are suggesting, in your view, that since a police report has been lodged, the AG (auditor-general) can drop it?
Sivananthan: It seems there is some final decision between you and the AG.
Ali: We leave it to the AG.
Sivananthan: The final word does not come from Arul?
Sivananthan: It’s in terms of hierarchy, you were the most senior man in the room?
Sivananthan: Arul is the most junior position in the room, he is from 1DMB, because everyone in the room is from the government?
Sivananthan: In government business, you were the chief secretary?
Ali: I was the chief secretary.
Sivananthan: He can say what he wants, but in the end, it’s up to the auditor-general what to do.
Sivananthan: In fact, this meeting would not have taken place if you did not cooperate?
Ali: This meeting would not have taken place if I were not asked to call for it.
Sivananthan: With respect, Mr Arul Kanda did not ask you to call for the meeting?
Sivananthan: In fact, his presence was there only because of your invitation? Correct?
Arul Kanda, 43, was seated in the dock with Najib, 67, who is accused of using his position to remove parts of the final 1MDB audit report between February 22 and 26, 2016, at the Prime Minister’s Department, before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee, to protect himself from criminal action.
Arul Kanda is on trial for abetting the former prime minister.
Nine officials were present at the February 24 meeting, including Ali, Arul Kanda, then auditor-general Ambrin Buang, Ali’s senior private secretary Norazman Ayub, Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, Attorney-General’s Chambers representative Dzulkifli Ahmad, Treasury representatives Mohamad Isa Hussain and Asri Hamdin, and Najib’s principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh.
Nor Salwani, who was not at the meeting, testified in November that she had surreptitiously placed a recording device in a pencil case belonging to Saadatul Nafisah, the NAD audit director.
Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram led the prosecution. Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was not present today due to illness.
Meanwhile, Sivananthan told reporters that after the cross-examination of the 20 prosecution witnesses, Arul Kanda may be called to give evidence for the prosecution against Najib. – TMI
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