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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Whistleblower's datukship raised in Najib’s 1MDB audit report trial


The issue of a National Audit Department (NAD) officer’s datukship was raised during the 1MDB audit report trial of Najib Abdul Razak today.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah questioned the title awarded to Nor Salwani Muhammad (above), who received the award after testifying in the former prime minister’s trial.

In previous proceedings in Nov 2019, NAD's director (Governance Sector) Nor Salwani gained public recognition after she testified that she saved the original audit report on the scandal-hit 1MDB.

She also testified to have kept a recording of a meeting in which it was allegedly decided that amendments would be made to 1MDB's final audit report.

The crux of the prosecution’s case hinged on what allegedly transpired during a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, involving representatives from 1MDB, the NAD, the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), and the Prime Minister’s Office.

It was alleged that during this meeting, a decision was made to amend the 1MDB audit report.

During Federal Territory Day on Feb 1 last year, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah conferred a datukship on Nor Salwani.

Then federal territories minister Khalid Samad congratulated Nor Salwani on her title, saying that “civil servants cannot protect public officers or ministers because (they) hold a responsibility to defend the interests of the nation and its people.

"What Salwani did must be exalted, and that is why we agreed to give her the title," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 1 last year.

During cross-examination before the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, Shafee questioned Nor Salwani on whether she agreed with Khalid’s statement following her being awarded the datukship.

Shafee: Regarding the minister’s statement, what do you think?

Nor Salwani: I respect the minister’s views. However, based on what transpired, my nomination (for the award) took place before the minister gave the views.

The seventh prosecution witness explained that she was nominated for the award based on her long service to the NAD, among others.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan then reminded the lawyer not to dwell on that line of questioning for too long.

The trial will resume on August 11. This is due to Najib’s legal team needing to prepare and submit Najib’s separate appeal at the Court of Appeal in April.

The said appeal is in relation to Najib seeking to set aside his conviction and sentencing in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.

For the current trial before Zaini, Najib is charged with using his position to order amendments to the sovereign wealth fund's final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in order to prevent any action against him.

Co-accused and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy was charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments.

The charges are framed under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which specifies 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.

[More to follow] - Mkini

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