Najib, Arul Kanda ordered 1MDB audit report amended to protect themselves, says investigating officer

KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court here was told today that Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and Arul Kanda Kandasamy (picture) had ordered the final audit report of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to be amended to protect themselves against any civil or criminal action.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Investigation Branch Senior Superintendent Haniff Lami, 34, who is the investigating officer, said Najib used his power as the then prime minister (PM) and minister of finance to order the report to be amended before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Feb 24, 2016.

The 16th prosecution witness said that based on his investigation, Arul Kanda,  who is also the former 1MDB CEO,  had colluded with Najib in giving instructions for the audit report to be amended.

“Najib had instructed the chief private secretary to the PM then, Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh, to get the 1MDB audit report and submit a copy of the report to Arul Kanda for review.

“Najib then ordered that a meeting be held at his office in Putrajaya on Feb 22,  2016, which was also attended by former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and former Chief Secretary to the Government the late Tan Sri Ali Hamsa,” he said.

Haniff said this when reading out  his witness statement during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam at the trial of Najib and Arul Kanda  for alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.

He said Najib had instructed Ali to hold a meeting with the National Audit Department to discuss matters which he (Najib) was not satisfied with in the 1MDB Audit Report.

“The report was not printed  until Najib gave the permission,” he said.

The witness said following Najib’s instruction, Ali held a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, which was also attended by Arul Kanda, and as a result of the meeting, four amendments were made to the audit report.

“Amendments had been made to two different versions of the 1MDB financial statements for 2014 and on an agreement  by Country Groups Securities Thailand with ACME Time Ltd, followed by amendments regarding the presence of fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, and the issue of postponing the issuance of Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN).

“The 1MDB Audit Report that was tabled to the PAC on March 4 and 7,  2016, was an amended report.

“My investigation shows that (tampering of the report) was done by the first accused (Najib) and the second accused (Arul Kanda) to protect themselves from any civil or criminal action related to the operation of 1MDB,” he said.

When cross-examined by lawyer Rahmat Hazlan, representing Najib, the witness said Najib and Arul Kanda were arrested on Dec 10 and 11, 2018, respectively, and their statements were recorded on the day of their arrest.

Haniff, however, disagreed with Rahmat’s suggestion that the permission to accuse the former prime minister was issued by former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas on Dec 10, 2018.

“The recording of Datuk Seri Najib’s conversation as a witness was taken on Dec 6,  2018, four days before his arrest,” he said.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

The offence was allegedly committed at the PM’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Both of them were charged under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which provides for 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.

The hearing before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Aug 18. – Bernama