Najib, Arul Kanda ordered 1MDB audit report changed to protect themselves

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Najib Razak and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy amended the company’s audit report to protect themselves from criminal prosecution and civil liability, the High Court has heard.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Haniff Lami said Najib, in his capacity as the then prime minister and finance minister, had used his authority and ordered the report to be altered.

He said the doctored report was then sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which met in March 2016.

The 16th prosecution witness said Arul Kanda had abetted Najib in the matter.

“My investigations revealed that both (Najib and Arul Kanda) were involved in making the amendment to protect themselves from civil and criminal action in operating 1MDB,” he said.

He said Najib had directed his principal private secretary, Shukry Mohd Salleh, to obtain the report, which was then handed over to Arul Kanda to enable him to go through its contents.

“(Najib) later ordered that a meeting be held in his office on Feb 22, 2016,” he said.

Haniff said then auditor-general Ambrin Buang and then chief secretary Ali Hamsa were present at the meeting.

During the meeting, he said, Najib directed Ali, who has since died, to fix a coordinating meeting between the national audit department and himself (Najib).

He said this was to enable Najib to discuss several issues in the report that he was unhappy about.

Bernama

Najib also instructed him not to print the report until he had approved its contents.

Haniff said that following Najib’s instruction, Ali convened a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, at which Arul Kanda was present.

As a result of the meeting, the MACC officer said, four items were removed from the report.

The items were related to two 2014 financial statements, the issuance of Islamic medium-term notes, the identity of the Islamic bonds’ secondary subscriber and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho’s (also known as Jho Low) presence at 1MDB board meetings.

He said the doctored report was presented to the PAC in early March 2016.

Earlier, Haniff said he was appointed to be the investigating officer on Nov 26, 2018, after MACC lodged a report to begin its probe on the audit report.

Cross-examined by Rahmat Hazlan, a lawyer from Najib’s legal team, he said he took a witness statement from Najib on Dec 6, 2016.

He also agreed with Rahmat that as an investigator, he must also give due consideration to a suspect’s version of a crime.

He said then attorney-general Tommy Thomas gave MACC the approval to charge Najib and Arul Kanda on Dec 10, 2016.

Rahmat: In this case, why did Thomas issue the consent to charge if the investigation had not been completed?

Haniff: Najib’s statement was taken earlier (Dec 6) and we know his version.

Rahmat: I put it that you did not accord him a fair investigation as Thomas had given approval to prosecute although the probe was not completed.

Haniff: I disagree.

Haniff said MACC arrested Najib on Dec 10, 2016, before he was produced in court.

Najib is standing trial for abuse of power while Arul Kanda is being tried for abetting him in his doctoring of the report.

The hearing before trial judge Zaini Mazlan was adjourned to Aug 18. – FMT