Tampering, shredded documents revealed at Najib’s 1MDB trial

Special meeting convened at Najib’s behest to weigh impact of the findings of a financial probe on 1MDB

by MARK RAO/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

A CONTROVERSIAL meeting was held to deliberate the damning impact of the findings of a financial probe on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) before the submission of an audit report to a Parliament special committee.

Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa (picture) told the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that a specific meeting was convened on Feb 24, 2016, with the understanding to protect the nation’s interests and at the behest of then Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

Ali, who is the prosecutor’s fourth witness, was referring to the two-hour and forty-minute audio recording played in court, which detailed what transpired at the Feb 24, 2016, meeting.

“When you were speaking of national interests, what did you mean?” deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram asked.

The former chief secretary to the government replied: “This was about the country as a whole, the wellbeing and reputation of the country.”

When probed further by the lead prosecutor on how the country’s reputation would be affected if the truth was out, Ali said “If it is all truth…I mean, it can proceed…but they were some arguments there. So, that is why we had to make sure everything was the truth.”

Ali served as the highest officer of the government from 2012 to 2018. He was testifying at Najib’s trial on the latter using his position to amend the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The prosecutors want to prove that Najib made the changes to the audit report to protect himself against any action that could be taken against him as a result of the findings of the “untampered” initial audit report.

The February meeting is alleged to have resulted in amendments to and removal of passages in what were supposed to be included in the final audit report before it would be submitted to the PAC.

Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in the alleged crime.

Najib has denied the charges and vowed to fight the allegations. Arul Kanda is expected to give his statement for the prosecutors.

Ali claimed that the meeting was convened at Najib’s behest while the changes to the report were requested after the first meeting with the former PM.

Ali had testified that he was called to Najib’s office two days before the Feb 24 meeting.

He was also asked why he suggested “shredding documents” of the initial 1MDB audit report during the meeting based on the recording produced in court.

“What was the purpose of making that suggestion?” Gopal asked the witness.

“Because of the conclusion at the end, saying that there shouldn’t be two or three versions — whatever the final version agreed (upon), that should stand,” Ali replied.

Ali, Arul Kanda, former AuditorGeneral Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, Najib’s then principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh and former deputy Finance Ministry secretary general Datuk Seri Mohamad Isa Hussain were believed to be in the meeting based on the recording.

But various sections of the audio recording were unintelligible, forcing the prosecution to submit a revised transcript of the recording (expected on Monday next week) before an approved finalised version is agreed upon by all parties.

Ali is expected to be cross-examined after the transcript is made available.

Najib is represented by lead counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, while Arul Kanda is represented by Datuk N Sivananthan.

The case is presided by High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan. The 66-year-old former PM could face a maximum 20-year jail term if convicted.