1MDB Audit Trial: Day Three

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Audio recording of meeting to tamper with 1MDB audit report played in court.


10am: The two accused, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and former 1MDB CEO K Arul Kanda are seen in court waiting for proceedings to begin.

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

10.15am: Proceedings begin, with Najib and Arul entering the dock.

10.16am: Sri Ram tenders in High Court a pen drive purportedly containing an audio recording of a meeting linked to the alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.

Sri Ram asks former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa whether the witness has seen the pen drive containing the audio recording before.

Ali answers he has not seen the pen drive before. The audio recording is then played out in court.

10.20am: Ali confirms it is his voice on an audio recording of a meeting linked to the alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit.

Previously, the court heard that Ali and the then auditor-general Ambrin Buang, as well as Arul, attended a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, where a decision was made to remove four issues from the audit report.

Among the issues is the alleged attendance of Jho Low at a 1MDB board meeting linked to the delay in issuance of 1MDB’s Islamic Medium-Term Notes (IMTN).

Sri Ram at times pauses the audio recording to ask Ali to identify the voices of those they are hearing.

Ali, so far identifies the voices of Ambrin Buang, National Audit Department officer Saadatul Nafisah, Mohd Isa Hussain (Treasury representative), and Shukry Mohd Salleh (former chief private secretary to Najib Razak).

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According to Ali’s witness statement during yesterday’s hearing, the meeting had purportedly took place on Feb 24, 2016.

Ali yesterday testified that he was the one who chaired the meeting and alleged that it was done on instructions of Najib who wanted coordination on the 1MDB audit report.

11.06am: As the prosecution continues to play the audio recording, which has a total length of about one-hour and forty-five minutes, sounds of a heated argument could be heard in the audio.

It seems that members of the quorum, including a woman believed to be Saadatul, were debating each other.

However, it could not be ascertained what they were discussing specifically as the audio recording is unclear.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan and counsels in the trial are aided by a transcript of the recording, which was not made available to the media.

Based on observation of highlighted portions of the transcript of the audio recording, shown on a somewhat partly clear playback screen in the High Court, the argument seems to be between Ambrin and Arul.

11.35am: Jho Low-linked firm Good Star Limited is raised in the meeting. This is heard from the audio recording of the meeting, where a decision was made to remove certain controversial issues linked to the 1MDB final audit report.

The voice raising the issue is believed to be that of Saadatul, who with Ambrin, attended as representatives from the National Audit Department in the said meeting.

Another voice, believed to be Arul’s, is heard explaining the matter in the audio recording.

12.02pm: Audio recording stops as courts calls for a recess.

12.29pm: Court resumes playback of the audio recording.

1.25pm: The court wraps up the complete replay of the audio recording.

1.28pm: Ali testifies that he suggested the shredding of other copies of 1MDB audit report to ensure only one version exists.

Sri Ram: You mentioned in the (audio) recording about the shredding of the document. What was the purpose of this suggestion?

Ali: Because of the conclusion at the end (of the Feb 24, 2016 meeting) there should not be two or three versions. Whatever final version agreed on should stand.

Sri Ram then concludes his examination-in-chief.

1.36pm: The High Court is allowing Najib’s defence team to defer cross-examination of Ali.

This is due to both the prosecution and defence teams needing to finalise the transcript of an audio recording of what transpired in a meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

Sri Ram then informs the court that all parties will work together to come up with a final version of the transcript.

Earlier, Shafee had raised the issue that some parts of the current transcript have errors.

Judge Zaini agrees and allows Ali to be temporarily released from the witness stand.

1.40pm: The prosecution calls its fifth witness, National Audit Department audit director (governance sector) Nor Salwani Muhammad to give her testimony.

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Reading from a prepared witness statement, she tells the court that Ambrin had on March 9, 2015, ordered for an audit to be carried out on 1MDB and its companies.

This decision by Ambrin was following an order by the Cabinet on March 5, 2015, for the department to verify 1MDB’s accounts and for all reports related to the company to be surrendered to the Public Accounts Committee.

According to Salwani, she was appointed by Ambrin to be the coordinator for the special audit team to audit 1MDB. The team was led by her superior Saadatul.

1.55pm: The court hears from Salwani that a special team under the National Audit Department (NAD) tasked to audit 1MDB had sent the final draft of their report for printing on Feb 20, 2016.

Salwani testifies that a total of 60 copies were printed, and they had brought it to the Chief Government Security Office for safekeeping on Feb 21, 2016.

The report was printed for tabling to the Public Accounts Committee, she says.

According to Salwani, she had taken 10 of the copies the next day. Six copies were given to Ambrin while the other four were kept in NAD’s safe.

Based on a distribution list, she tells the court Ambrin kept one of the copies and the remaining five were then distributed on the same day to five people.

They are the then prime minister Najib, Najib’s then chief private secretary Shukry Salleh, Arul, Ali and Dzulkifli Ahmad (then officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers).

Salwani testifies that all the other copies had been destroyed, except for one which was surrendered to the MACC on Nov 2, 2018.

2.07pm: The court adjourns for the day.

Earlier, the court hears that Zaini allowed an application by the prosecution and defence to vacate hearings for this Friday, and next Monday and Tuesday.

This comes as Sri Ram and Najib’s defence team have matters at higher courts on those days.

Earlier reports:

Nov 20, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Two

Nov 19, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day One