1MDB Audit Trial: Day Eight

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Arul Kanda’s lawyers not cross-examining any witness as he is likely to end up as a prosecution witness.

2.04pm: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the Kuala Lumpur High Court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to wait for proceedings to begin.

Also seen in court is co-accused, former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

2.05pm: Najib and Arul enter the dock as proceedings begin.

The court is also informed that Najib’s lead defence counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, is unable to attend proceedings this afternoon.

Najib’s co-counsel Rahmat Hazlan informs judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that Shafee is feeling unwell and has taken a flu jab earlier this morning.

Rahmat adds that Shafee will be attending proceedings tomorrow.

Also seen in court are Arul Kanda’s lead defence counsel N Sivananthan and lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram.

2.08pm: The High Court resumes playback of the two hours and 45-minute audio recording of the key meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

At this meeting, it was alleged that a decision was made to drop several controversial issues from the 1MDB final audit report.

3.18pm: The court finishes playback of the Feb 24, 2016 meeting’s audio recording.

3.24pm: Retired National Audit Department (NAD) officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad testifies that she and then auditor-general Ambrin Buang defended the findings of the original 1MDB audit report during a key meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

During examination-in-chief by Sri Ram, Saadatul says this is done against the disagreement expressed by those attending the meeting at the office of then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa.

Among those who attended the meeting were Arul, Najib’s principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh, Ali, and then Attorney-General’s Chambers officer Dzulkilfi Ahmad.

Sri Ram is asking Saadatul about the meeting where Shukry voiced out disagreements with the NAD’s findings.

Saadatul: What I understood at the time was that he (Shukry) was talking about the contradictions in our findings. The group disagreed with our opinion.

Sri Ram: The group disagreed with your report?

Saadatul: They disagreed with our opinion, the auditor-general’s (Ambrin) opinion. It was our opinion, can agree with it or disagree. But as auditors, we need to give our opinion.

When Sri Ram asks for clarification, Saadatul says: “Both of us were defending what we produced in the report.”

3.28pm: Saadatul testifies that if it was not for the Feb 24, 2016 meeting, then the original 1MDB audit report would not have been changed.

Sri Ram: If this meeting had not been held, the exhibit (the altered1MDB final audit report) would not have come into existence?

Saadatul: No, it would not have come into existence.

3.35pm: “Our leadership” refers to Najib, Saadatul testifies.

Saadatul tells Sri Ram that this was what Ali meant during a crucial meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

According to the two hours and 45-minute audio recording of the meeting, Ali is overheard saying “to take care of our leadership” in reference to the amendments to the 1MDB audit report.

Sri Ram: “To take care of our leadership”, what did he (Ali) mean?

Saadatul: Our (then) prime minister (Najib).

Sri Ram: Who was on the 1MDB board of advisors at the time?

Saadatul: The finance minister, who was Najib at the time.

3.40 pm: Arul’s defence team will not be cross-examining any further prosecution witnesses in order not to compromise their client’s position as a prosecution witness in the audit tampering trial.

Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali/NST

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is informed of this by Arul’s lead defence counsel Sivananthan at the end of proceedings this afternoon.

“As they (the prosecution through their opening statement earlier during trial) will be calling our client (a witness), we reserve the cross-examination of all (prosecution) witnesses so as not to compromise his position as a witness.

“However, if he (Arul) is not called as a witness (even towards the end of the prosecution’s stage of the trial), then we reserve the right to apply to recall (any prosecution witness) and cross-examine them.

“As it stands, we reserve the cross-examination on all witnesses,” Sivananthan says.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan replies that the court will cross the bridge when the trial gets there.

The judge also adjourns trial to 2pm tomorrow afternoon because Sri Ram has concluded his examination-in-chief of Saadatul.

Tomorrow’s proceedings will see Najib’s defence team given the option to cross-examine any of the witnesses that have testified in the course of trial so far.

These include Saadatul Nafisah, former auditor-general Ambrin Buang, former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa, and former NAD officer Nor Salwani Muhammad.

The prosecution also has one or two new witnesses on standby for tomorrow’s proceedings.

Earlier reports:

Jan 14, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Seven

Nov 29, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Six

Nov 28, Former A-G Ambrin Told That Tarnishing Najib’s Reputation Akin to Sullying Nation’s Image

Nov 27, Ambrin: I Ordered Auditor Salwani to Save Sole 1MDB Audit Report, Destroy the Rest

Nov 21, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Four

Nov 21, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Three

Nov 20, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Two

Nov 19, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day One