by BERNAMA/ pic by BLOOMBERG
The High Court here was told today that the audit report on state-owned sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its group of companies should have been completed in five months but took almost a year because of the difficulty in accessing information.
Former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, 70, said this in his testimony, adding that he had ordered the classification of the report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 to avoid a leak of information as had previously occurred at the Public Accounts Committee secretariat.
On March 4, 2015, Cabinet had instructed the National Audit Department (NAD) to conduct an audit of 1MDB for the purposes of assessing its financial status and activities, and to verify its financial statement.
However, the audit undertaken by a team of 12 officers from the department since March 2015 took almost a year “because the department faced limitations in getting a portion of original and important documents or (there were) late submissions or no submission at all by 1MDB,” he said.
Ambrin, the sixth witness for the prosecution, was testifying on the fourth day of trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy over the alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.
During examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Rozaliana Zakaria, the witness said among the important documents which 1MDB failed to produce, were the group’s management accounts, as well as account statements from foreign banking institutions.
In addition, computers including laptops, as well as servers at 1MDB, were inaccessible to the department.
On the matter of classifying the report under the OSA, Ambrin, who served as auditor-general for 12 years since 2006, and is now chairman of the Governance, Procurement and Finance Committee in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he made the decision to avoid the sensationalisation of the report, and this followed a letter he received from 1MDB on Oct 22, 2015 concerning the leak of information.
Najib, 66, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented before the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
Both men have been charged under provisions of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which carry a maximum 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.
The trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues next Wednesday.