Audio recorder in a pencil case recorded controversial meeting

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ graphic by DYG NORAZHAR

A WITNESS yesterday revealed that she hid a voice recorder in a pencil case owned by a colleague to record a controversial meeting which led to alleged amendments to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) final audit report.

National Audit Department (NAD) audit director Nor Salwani Muhammad (picture) told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that she slipped the device into a pencil case owned by NAD representative at the meeting, Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, without the latter’s knowledge, according to Bernama.

Her statement came days after the explosive allegations of a meeting that was convened under the behest of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and the shredding of the original audit report to erase any clues to the earlier findings.

The fifth prosecution witness said she was not allowed to sit in the audit report coordination meeting.

She had placed the voice recorder secretly so that she could prepare minutes of the meeting.

“I was appointed coordinator of the meeting. Due to this, I needed to know what was being discussed in the meeting, as I was not part of it (the meeting).

“Saadatul Nafisah had no knowledge I had kept a voice recorder in her pencil case. After the meeting ended, I took the voice recorder out from the pencil case and took it back to the office,” she said during the examination-in-chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the fourth day of the trial yesterday.

Nor Salwani also confirmed that the voice recorder was owned by NAD.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah questioned the witness’ ethics.

“After I was asked hurriedly to leave the room just before the meeting commenced, I noticed a pencil case on the table and I slipped in the voice recorder,” Nor Salwani said.

She also informed the court that she did not inform the former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa on the need to place the recording device.

“At that point, I was quite unsettled… and I did not have the chance to do so,” Nor Salwani answered.

An audio recording that was played in the court on Tuesday highlighted the damming suggestion to shred the initial 1MDB audit report.

Ali, the fourth prosecution witness, had previously testified that a specific meeting was convened on Feb 24, 2016, with the understanding to protect the nation’s interests and at the behest of Najib.

Ali, former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, Najib’s then principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh and Finance Ministry former deputy secretary general Datuk Seri Mohamad Isa Hussain were believed to be in the meeting based on the recording.

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 former prime minister denied the charges and continuously professed his innocence. If found guilty, he could face a maximum jail term of 20 years.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report.

The trial before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues next Wednesday.