PUTRAJAYA: The removal of a paragraph or paragraphs mentioning the presence of businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low at a meeting of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) board of directors was one of the changes made in the 1MDB final audit report when it was being prepared, says Auditor-General Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad.
She said another change made was on the financial status of 1MDB.
Dr Madinah said the directive to make the changes came from Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, the former principal private secretary of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Feb 26, 2016.
The order was made on the grounds that it was a sensitive issue and to prevent it from being manipulated by the then opposition Pakatan Harapan.
Dr Madinah said she briefed the Cabinet at its meeting last Friday on the amendments to the 1MDB final audit report that was finalised and presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on March 4, 2016.
“The 1MDB final report prior to the amendments was submitted to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Royal Malaysia Police in 2018 for investigation,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Madinah said two crucial deletions were made to the report – one on the financial status of 1MDB and the other on the presence of Jho Low at a meeting of the 1MDB board of directors.
At the meeting with Najib on Feb 22, 2016, he ordered the deletion of the paragraphs in relation to the two versions of the 1MDB financial statement for the year ended 2014 and ordered an investigation by the enforcement authorities, she said.
That meeting was also attended by the former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, Shukry and the former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.
A meeting on Feb 24, 2016, attended by Ali, Shukry, Ambrin and the then 1MDB Group president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy as well as representatives of the Attorney General’s Chambers and Finance Ministry, discussed several other paragraphs in the report and issued directives for their removal or amendment, she said.
On Feb 25, 2016, Ali instructed the 1MDB audit team to attend a meeting at his office, along with Arul Kanda, to further discuss the 1MDB final audit report, Dr Madinah said.
“That meeting was to further discuss the report whereby several other findings reported were re-moved or amended,” she said.
She said Shukry ordered the former audit director to remove a paragraph, which proved that Jho Low had attended a meeting of the 1MDB board of directors.
She said that on Feb 28, 2016, the 1MDB final audit report was amended to exclude Jho Low’s attendance at the 1MDB meeting and the amended document was submitted to Ali for further action.
Changes were again made on March 1, 2016. On March 1, 2016, Ali again summoned the audit team to his office to discuss the report, she said.
Dr Madinah said at the session, only Ali and Arul Kanda were present to review the report in detail with the audit team and instructions were given for more changes to be made to the report
On March 4 and 7, 2016, Ambrin presented the 1MDB final audit report to the PAC, she said.
Dr Madinah said the original 1MDB final audit report without the amendments and removal of paragraphs was handed over to the MACC and the police this year.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Insti-tute of Accountants (MIA) said in a statement that it had done the investigation on former 1MDB auditor Deloitte.
The case has now been brought for hearing at the MIA disciplinary committee, said MIA chief executive officer Dr Nurmazilah Mahzan.
Separately, the MACC issued a statement saying that it has begun a probe into the alleged tampering of the 1MDB report.
“The MACC will call in a few witnesses soon for their statements to be taken and to facilitate investigations into the matter,” it said.
The statement said the MACC had reviewed both versions of the auditor-general’s report.
“The MACC has studied the original report document and made a comparison to the final draft issued by the Auditor-General,” it said.
“In this connection, MACC will call in a few witnesses for their statements to be taken and to facilitate investigations in the matter.”
Meanwhile PAC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said that key stakeholders in the 1MDB scandal, including Ambrin and Dr Madinah, would be called to assist in investigations into the matter.
“Based on the last PAC meeting, we have decided to meet Ambrin on Dec 4 and his successor Dr Madi-nah on Dec 5,” he said when contacted.
He would not rule out calling up Najib, Jho Low and Arul Kanda as well.
“I would not rule them out. But we (the PAC) need to meet to decide when we can call other individuals involved for questioning,” he said.