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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Day 8: Arul Kanda's defence opts not to cross-examine prosecution witnesses



The criminal trial of ex-premier Najib Abdul Razak and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy involving the alleged tampering with 1MDB's final audit report enters its eighth day today at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
Malaysiakini brings you live reports of the proceedings.

Summary of Najib and Arul's case

Najib is facing a charge of tampering with 1Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) final audit report. He is being tried together with 1MDB former chief executive officer (CEO) Arul Kanda Kandasamy who is accused of abettment.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arul Kanda's defence opts not to cross-examine prosecution witnesses
  • 'Our leadership' refers to Najib - witness
  • 1MDB audit report only altered due to meeting on Feb 24, 2016
  • Ambrin, Saadatul defended original 1MDB audit report
  • Court completes playback of audit report meeting's audio recording

Thank you for following Malaysiakini's live report
4pm - Thank you for following our live report today.

Arul Kanda's defence opts not to cross-examine prosecution witnesses
3.40 pm - Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy's defence team will not be cross-examining any further prosecution witnesses in order not to compromise their client's position as a prosecution witness in the audit tampering trial.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court is informed of this by Arul Kanda's (below) lead defence counsel N Sivananthan at the end of proceedings this afternoon.
"As they (the prosecution through their opening statement earlier during trial) will be calling our client (a witness), we reserve the cross-examination of all (prosecution) witnesses so as not to compromise his position as a witness.
"However, if he (Arul Kanda) is not called as a witness (even towards the end of the prosecution's stage of the trial), then we reserve the right to apply to recall (any prosecution witness) and cross-examine them.
"As it stands, we reserve the cross-examination on all witnesses," Sivananthan says.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan replies that the court will cross the bridge when the trial gets there.
The judge also adjourns trial to 2pm tomorrow afternoon because lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram has concluded his examination-in-chief of the seventh witness, retired National Audit Department (NAD) officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad.
Tomorrow's proceedings will see Najib's defence team given the option to cross-examine any of the witnesses that have testified in the course of trial so far.
These include Saadatul Nafisah, former auditor-general Ambrin Buang, former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa, and former NAD officer Nor Salwani Muhammad.
The prosecution also has one or two new witnesses on standby for tomorrow's proceedings.

'Our leadership' refers to Najib - witness
3.35pm - "Our leadership" refers to then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, a former National Audit Department officer testifies.
Seventh prosecution witness Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad tells DPP Gopal Sri Ram during examination-in-chief that this was what then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa meant during a crucial meeting on Feb 24, 2016.
According to the two hours and 45-minute audio recording of the meeting, Ali is overheard saying "to take care of our leadership" in reference to the amendments to the 1MDB audit report.
Sri Ram: "To take care of our leadership", what did he (Ali) mean?
Saadatul Nafisah: Our (then) prime minister (Najib).
Sri Ram: Who was on the 1MDB board of advisors at the time?
Saadatul Nafisah: The finance minister, who was Najib at the time.

1MDB audit report only altered due to meeting on Feb 24, 2016
3.28pm - Retired National Audit Department (NAD) officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad testifies that if it was not for the Feb 24, 2016 meeting, then the original 1MDB audit report would not have been changed.
The seventh prosecution witness says this during examination-in-chief by DPP Gopal Sri Ram.
Sri Ram: If this meeting had not been held, the exhibit (the altered1MDB final audit report) would not have come into existence?
Saadatul Nafisah: No, it would not have come into existence.

Ambrin, Saadatul defended original 1MDB audit report
3.24pm - Retired National Audit Department (NAD) officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad testifies that she and then auditor-general Ambrin Buang defended the findings of the original 1MDB audit report during a key meeting on Feb 24, 2016.
During examination-in-chief by lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram, seventh prosecution witness Saadatul Nafisah says this is done against the disagreement expressed by those attending the meeting at the office of then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa.
Among those who attended the meeting were former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh, Ali, and then Attorney-General's Chambers officer Dzulkilfi Ahmad.
Sri Ram is asking Saadatul Nafisah (photo) about the meeting where Shukry voiced out disagreements with the NAD's findings.
Saadatul Nafisah: What I understood at the time was that he (Shukry) was talking about the contradictions in our findings. The group disagreed with our opinion.
Sri Ram: The group disagreed with your report?
Saadatul Nafisah: They disagreed with our opinion, the auditor-general's (Ambrin) opinion. It was our opinion, can agree with it or disagree. But as auditors, we need to give our opinion.
When Sri Ram asks for clarification, Saadatul Nafisah says: "Both of us were defending what we produced in the report."
The Feb 24, 2016, meeting led to a decision to drop several controversial issues from 1MDB's final audit report.

Court completes playback of audit report meeting's audio recording
3.18pm - The court finishes playback of the Feb 24, 2016 meeting's audio recording.
2.08pm - The High Court resumes playback of the two hours and 45-minute audio recording of the key meeting on Feb 24, 2016.
At this meeting, it was alleged that A decision was made to drop several controversial issues from the 1MDB final audit report.
2.05pm - Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and ex-1MDB CEO K Arul Kanda Kandasamy enter the dock as proceedings begin.
The court is also informed that Najib's lead defence counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, is unable to attend proceedings this afternoon.
Najib's co-counsel Rahmat Hazlan informs judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that Shafee is feeling unwell and has taken a flu jab earlier this morning.
Rahmat adds that Shafee will be attending proceedings tomorrow.
Also seen in court are Arul Kanda's lead defence counsel N Sivananthan and lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram.
2.04pm - Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the Kuala Lumpur High Court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to wait for proceedings to begin.
Also seen in court is co-accused, former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

The eighth day of former premier Najib Abdul Razak and ex-1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s 1MDB audit tampering trial will resume before the Kuala Lumpur High Court at 2pm this afternoon rather than the usual 9am.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan set the hearing to start at 2pm for today until Thursday.
Among the reasons is because Najib’s defence team, led by veteran lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, has separate back-to-back court cases that they need to attend to.
This afternoon’s proceedings will see the prosecution continue its examination-in-chief of the seventh prosecution witness, retired National Audit Department (NAD) officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad.
Alongside then auditor-general Ambrin Buang, she was among the attendees of a crucial Feb 24, 2016, meeting at the office of then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa.
It was alleged that this meeting - also attended by Ali, Arul Kanda, Najib’s then principal private secretary Shukry Mohd Salleh, and then Finance Ministry deputy secretary-general Mohamad Isa Hussain among others - led to a decision to drop several controversial issues from 1MDB's final audit report.
This afternoon, the court is also expected to resume playback of the two hours and 45 minutes audio recording of the meeting, with Saadatul Nafisah listening and helping the prosecution identify certain unclear parts of the transcript of the recording, among others.
Yesterday, the court heard among others that Ali - as heard in the audio recording and confirmed by Saadatul Nafisah - described part of the initial audit report on 1MDB as “dangerous material evidence”. - Mkini

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