Former prime minister Najib Razak instructed for the removal of “sensitive” information from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard today.
His former principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh, the prosecution’s 11th witness, told the court that the Pekan MP directed him to do this on February 26, 2016.
“Najib instructed me more or less like this: ‘Shukry, you speak to the audit (National Audit Department) so that sensitive and irrelevant issues, including Jho Low’s (fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho) involvement in 1MDB, are not included in the report.
He was testifying before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan at Najib’s 1MDB audit report-tampering trial.
Shukry said he had then contacted NAD auditor Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad and conveyed Najib’s instructions.
The witness said he had received an envelope containing the 1MDB audit report from Saadatul on February 20, 2016, at the government house he was occupying at the time in Precinct 10, Putrajaya.
He said this was after Najib had instructed that the report must be reviewed before printing.
He added Najib was afraid that there was “inappropriate” content in the report.
He also said that ex-auditor-general Ambrin Buang was at first reluctant to surrender the report due to the urgency of submission to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Upon receiving the report, Shukry said he merely glanced at it before suggesting to Najib that the report be reviewed by ex-1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
Najib agreed with the suggestion, he added.
“Arul Kanda reviewed the report and told me that there were facts that needed to be amended between the auditor-general and 1MDB.
“Arul Kanda also informed me he had previously met with the auditor-general regarding the contents of the report.
“However, I am not sure what he meant because according to him many documents were not in 1MDB’s possession during discussions held with the auditor-general,” Shukry said.
Arul Kanda, 44, was seated in the dock with Najib, 68, 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 PAC, to protect himself from criminal action.
Arul Kanda is on trial for abetting the former prime minister.
Shukry also testified on another instruction from Najib on February 22, 2016, to invite then chief secretary to the government, Ali Hamsa, as well as Ambrin, to his office to discuss the audit report.
“However, I did not know more about the details of their discussions as I often went in and out to manage other work,” he said.
The next day following that meeting, Shukry said Ali told him a meeting had been arranged for February 24, 2016 with representatives from NAD, 1MDB, the Treasury and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
“In that meeting, I informed Ali and Ambrin that the 1MDB issue has become a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately.
“What I meant is that 1MDB had become the focus of all parties at home and abroad,” he said, also clarifying that his presence in the meeting was approved by Najib.
Shukry added that the meeting on February 24 also discussed the issue of two different versions of 1MDB’s financial statements for 2014.
“I have stated that this matter could have an impact on foreign confidence in our country.
“This is because if a large company under the Malaysian government such as 1MDB can be manipulated, it can have implications on investor sentiments,” he said.
The witness today also said he had suspicions Najib was hiding something.
He said he had brought up during the meeting whether Najib was “duty-bound according to the law and regulations to inform the cabinet on the matter.”
“The meeting agreed to drop the matter after obtaining legal views from AGC representative Dzulkifli Ahmad,” Shukry said.
The trial will resume on October 20. – TMI
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