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Friday, August 12, 2022

Najib ordered 1MDB audit amendment to protect himself, says MACC officer


An MACC officer testified that former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak sought an amendment to the 1MDB audit report in 2016 to shield himself from legal consequences.

Senior enforcer Hanif Lami told the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning this was his conclusion on the reason the accused used his then position as prime minister to order the amendment before the report could be tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2016.

The 16th prosecution witness was testifying in the 1MDB audit report case against Najib, who is also a former finance minister, and the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund’s former CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

During proceedings before trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, Haniff testified this was also the reason Arul Kanda was allegedly involved in amending the audit report.

“The result of my investigation showed that the matter (offence) was committed by the first and second accused (Arul Kanda and Najib) to protect themselves from any civil or criminal actions related to the operation of 1MDB,” the witness claimed.

The investigating officer behind the 1MDB audit report case testified that Arul Kanda abetted Najib in the amendment to the 1MDB audit report on Feb 24, 2016, before it was tabled to the PAC.

“The second accused (Najib) in this case ordered Shukry Mohd Salleh, the then chief private secretary to the prime minister, to obtain the 1MDB audit report and hand over a copy to the first accused (Arul Kanda), who was then 1MDB CEO, for perusal,” Haniff claimed.

Coordination meeting

The MACC investigating officer testified that Najib then ordered a meeting at his office at Putrajaya on Feb 22, 2016, which was also attended by then auditor-general Ambrin Buang and then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa.

Haniff claimed that during the meeting, Najib directed Ali to convene a coordination meeting between the National Audit Department and himself to discuss any issues he was not satisfied with in the 1MDB audit report and that the report was not to be published until he gave the green light.

The witness testified that this led to another meeting two days later on Feb 24, 2016, called by Ali and attended by Arul Kanda.

Haniff claimed that, following the meeting, amendments were made to the 1MDB audit report on four issues, among them being the two differing versions of the 1MDB financial statement for the year 2014, and the issue of businessperson Low Taek Jho’s (Jho Low) attendance in 1MDB board meetings.

“Following the meeting, the 1MDB audit report, which was tabled before the PAC on March 4 and 7, 2016, was the amended report due to the order from the second accused,” Haniff told the court.

His written witness statement was taken as read during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam.

During cross-examination by Najib’s defence counsel Rahmat Hazlan, the witness denied the investigation against the accused was rushed and unfair.

The lawyer was grilling the witness over the allegedly speedy pace of investigation against Najib in 2018, whereby an MACC report was lodged on Nov 26, the MACC recorded Najib’s statement on Dec 6, then the former prime minister was detained and released on bail on Dec 10, followed by being charged in court on Dec 12.

Rahmat: It all happened very fast. I say to you that Najib was not given a full and fair investigation.

Haniff: I disagree.


The trial before Zaini will resume on Aug 18, where the defence teams of both Najib and Arul Kanda will resume cross-examination of Haniff.

Previously, the court allowed the prosecution’s application to turn co-accused Arul Kanda into a star witness against Najib.

Najib’s defence team has yet to conclude their cross-examination of Arul Kanda and will resume at a later trial date.

Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy

Najib is charged with using his position as then prime minister to order amendments to 1MDB’s final audit report before it was presented to the PAC to prevent any action against him.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting the then prime minister 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.

The prosecution contended that following a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, a decision was made to remove or alter certain portions of the 1MDB audit report, including dropping the presence of Low at the fund’s board meetings.

Another issue that was allegedly dropped from the audit report was the two conflicting 2014 financial statements of the sovereign wealth fund.

Besides Ali and Arul Kanda, others who were present at the meeting were Ambrin, former National Audit Department officer Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, Shukry, and then Attorney-General’s Chambers representative Dzulkifli Ahmad. - Mkini

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