1MDB Audit Trial: Day Five

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Former auditor-general Ambrin Buang felt cheated that no police report was lodged over the two conflicting 1MDB financial statements that were left out of the 1MDB final audit report, despite assurance from Najib.

Audit on 1MDB found:

  • Weak governance
  • Major investment not properly done
  • Business conducted by relying on loans which became a burden
  • Not profitable, as loans exceeded revenue

9.15am: Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is seen conferring with his lead defence counsel N Sivananthan.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

9.25am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the High Court and takes a seat alongside co-accused Arul while awaiting proceedings to begin.

Mukhriz Hazim/Malaysiakini

The two accused are seen chatting with each other.

Also seen in court is lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram and other DPPs as well as members of Najib’s defence team.

9.46am: Najib and Arul enter the dock as proceedings begin.

Najib’s lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is seen in the High Court.

Former auditor-general Ambrin Buang is seen in the witness stand, to resume his testimony for the prosecution’s examination-in-chief.

9.55am: Ambrin testifies that 1MDB suffered from loan problems as its loans exceeded revenue and caused it to suffer loss.

The sixth prosecution witness says this while reading from his Witness Statement during prosecution examination-in-chief by DPP Rozaliana Zakaria.

Ambrin says that the National Audit Department’s audit found the performance of 1MDB dissatisfactory due to debt problems, among others.

“Governance is weak and major investment was not properly done.

“1MDB’s business was conducted by relying on loans from within and outside the country, which became a burden.

“The loans exceeded revenue and thus, 1MDB was not profitable,” he says.

10.10am: Ambrin testifies that Najib directed him not to include two conflicting financial statements into 1MDB’s final audit report.

He says that Najib told him this during a separate meeting just before the crucial Feb 24, 2016 meeting where a decision was made to remove certain controversial issues from the 1MDB final audit report.

“Najib asked me not to include the issue of the two versions of 1MDB’s financial statements into the 1MDB audit report.

Mukhriz Hazim/Malaysiakini

“Najib promised to me that the authorities will probe. He told me that ‘we will get to the bottom of this’,” says Ambrin.

10.15am: Ambrin testifies that the National Audit Department (NAD) received pressure to consider the response from 1MDB about the finding of NAD’s audit of the sovereign wealth fund.

Ambrin says this took place during the Feb 24, 2016, meeting, which was attended by then chief secretary Ali Hamsa and Arul, among others.

He also testifies that during the meeting, then Najib’s chief private secretary Syukry Mohd Salleh informed the attendees, which included Ambrin, that the 1MDB audit report could be manipulated by the then opposition.

Ambrin says Arul also said during the meeting that the 1MDB management had a response to the finding of the NAD audit.

“The meeting pressured (beri tekanan) JAN (NAD) to hear out and receive the response from 1MDB management although they had already been given a long time to respond,” he adds.

10.20am: Ambrin says that during a meeting held on Feb 24, 2016, he agreed for the issue of Jho Low’s attendance of a 1MDB board meeting struck out from the final audit report.

11.17am: Ambrin identifies and confirms paragraphs of what is believed to be the 1MDB audit report during during examination-in-chief by Rozaliana.

11.19am: Proceedings go into a short break.

11.43am: Proceedings resume.

11.50am: Ambrin is referring to the content of the non-final 1MDB audit report, which touched on the purported hastiness in the issuance of then Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) Islamic Medium-Term Notes (IMTN) in 2009.

Ambrin confirms that the word “hasty” was dropped from the final audit report in relation to the issuance of the IMTN notes.

11.59am: Ambrin wraps up the reading of his Witness Statement.

12.09pm: Ambrin testifies that he believed Najib’s assurance that they “would get to the bottom of it” in relation to the investigation on the two conflicting 1MDB financial statements.

He tells lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram this during examination-in-chief.

Sri Ram: When he (Najib) said “I will get to the bottom of it”, did you believe him?

Ambrin: He was the prime minister, I had no reason to not believe him.

Ambrin, however, admits he never received confirmation whether Najib did actually got to “the bottom of it”.

The witness earlier told the court that the issue of the two 1MDB conflicting financial statements were dropped from the 1MDB final audit report.

12.11pm: Ambrin says that NAD officer Nor Salwani Muhammad did not breached the code of conduct when she placed a recorder in a pencil box in the Feb 24, 2016 meeting.

Ambrin testifies that this is because she is part of the NAD audit team, and when she was ushered out of the meeting, she could not take down notes, hence the recorder was necessary.

Sri Ram: She (Salwani) could not attend the meeting, she placed the recording device in the pencil case of (NAD auditor Saadatul) Nafisah. Would you describe that as a breach of the code of conduct?

Ambrin: No. Because if she had been able to attend the meeting, she would not have breached it (the code of conduct) as she could then take down notes for internal use (of NAD).

12.14pm: Ambrin testifies that he felt cheated that no police report was lodged over the two conflicting 1MDB financial statements that were left out of the 1MDB final audit report, despite assurance from the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Sri Ram is asking Ambrin whether the witness had checked whether any police report was lodged, following the former prime minister’s assurance that they would “get to the bottom of things”.

“I felt cheated as I was given assurance (by Najib). On that premise, I (agreed) to drop the issue of the two versions (of the 1MDB financial statements) from the (1MDB final audit) report,” Ambrin says.

12.39pm: The prosecution and the defence have not arrived at an agreement over a final version of the transcript of the Feb 24, 2016, meeting that resulted in a decision to amend 1MDB’s final audit report.

Sri Ram informs the High Court that the prosecution is satisfied with the transcript.

However, the counsel for Najib and Arul tell the court that they still could not agree on the transcript due to several purported errors and omissions of words, among others.

Sivananthan finally suggests that the prosecution and the two accused’s defence teams each send a representative to sit down together, listen to the audio recording and jot down the transcript.

All parties agree to this proposal.

Shafee informs the court that this may take some time and may only be finished by Friday this week.

12.57pm: The entire audio recording of the meeting held on Feb 24, 2016, where it was decided to drop several controversial issues from 1MDB’s final audit report is replayed in the High Court.

The replaying of the recording is for Buang to identify the people in the meeting.

Ambrin is seen following the audio recording with the prosecution’s version of the transcript.

1.55am: Proceedings are adjourned for the day.

Earlier reports:

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