KUALA LUMPUR: Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang told the High Court today that he was asked by former Chief Secretary to the Government (KSN) Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa to remove his opinion in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report.
The sixth prosecution witness said Ali made the request during the 1MDB Audit Report coordination meeting, which was held on the instruction of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 24, 2016.
“It was difficult, It (the request) is almost an instruction from the (former) Chief Secretary (Ali) to remove my opinion on my own report (1MDB audit report).
“The KSN wanted to ensure our (National Audit Department) opinion (on the 1MDB audit report) to be taken out,” he said during cross-examination by lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan who was representing former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of 1MDB, Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
Ambrin was testifying in the trial of Najib, 67, who was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report which was already ‘finalised’ by the Auditor-General before the report was ‘finalised again’ and presented before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda, 44, was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB.
They were charged under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
In the coordination meeting chaired by Ali, there were four issues agreed to be removed from the 1MDB audit report, including two conflicting versions of the company’s 2014 financial report.
On June 16, Ali, who was the fourth prosecution witness testified that he and Arul Kanda never pressured or threatened Ambrin to amend the 1MDB audit report.
On a question by Sivananthan, Ambrin, 70, who is now a retiree, said that he did not like the idea that Arul Kanda was given the opportunity to go through the 1MDB audit report page by page.
Sivananthan: Your felt insulted that my client has been given the opportunity to go through the report page by page, but whatever he suggested is still up to you to accept it, it’s your discretion whether to consider the option or not.
Ambrin: But I don’t like the idea about our auditee to go through page by page, paragraph by paragraph of my report and I don’t like that because I think it’s unethical.
During re-examination by former Federal Court judge who leads the prosecution team, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, the witness said that the 1MDB audit report was already in its final version to be presented to the PAC, when he attended the meeting with Najib at the former prime minister’s office on Feb 22, 2016.
Sri Ram: Najib asked not to include the two conflicting 1MDB financial statements in the audit report, is that happened (during the Feb 22nd meeting)?
Ambrin: He did not order me, it was just a suggestion. The final decision to drop it (two financial statements) was made after I got assurance from Ali that police report will be lodged on that matter.
The trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Aug 24. -Bernama