Witness: I hid device to record 1MDB audit report meeting in my boss' pencil case (updated)

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court heard that the device used to record the coordination meeting which discussed amendments for the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report on Feb 24,2016 was hidden inside a pencil case.

Audit director Nor Salwani Muhammad, 52, testified that she had placed the recorder inside the pencil case belonging to former audit performance director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad without the latter's knowledge.

The witness, who was under examination-in-chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, explained that she inserted the device in order to have the meeting minutes.

"I was appointed as the coordinator for the preparation of 1MDB audit report. Therefore, I needed to know what was discussed in the meeting as I was not allowed to join it.

"Saadatul Nafisah did not know I placed the recorder inside her pencil case. After the meeting ended, I took the device," she said here on Thursday (Nov 21).

Nor Salwani made the revelation during the joint trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, dubbed as the PAC trial.

According to Nor Salwani, her ex-bosses, former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Saadatul Nafisah left the meeting room after the discussion ended and Ambrin appeared upset.

Sri Ram: Did you notice what Ambrin looked like? His demeanour?

Nor Salwani: He looked upset with what had transpired. He looked very sad, he was mumbling something as I followed him.

Sri Ram: He looked upset?

Nor Salwani: I followed him to the washroom as he went to wash his face.

Sri Ram: Why did you do that?

Nor Salwani: I was afraid he might fall down because he looked fragile at the time. He looked upset.

Sri Ram: Did he say anything?

Nor Salwani: He was mumbling,"what is the purpose of the audit?"

The witness said she and the audit team went back to the NAD office and replayed the recording.

"We were shocked upon hearing the request to omit some things from the report, including on the existence of two (1MDB) financial statements.

"There were orders for several reports not to be included in the audit as well as to dispose of the documents. I took a further step and transferred the recording into a hard disk and a thumb drive," she added.

Nor Salwani said the original recording in the device she used was deleted as the device belonged to the government. This, she said, was to prevent a leak of information.

The witness said in her 22-year work experience, hearing the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute recording of the Feb 24 meeting was very shocking.

"It was not normal," she told the court.

On Wednesday (Nov 20), the audio clip was played at the High Court and former chief secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa identified several voices in it.

On Tuesday (Nov 19), Ali revealed that he called a coordination meeting between 1MDB and several related agencies as instructed by Najib.

He said no minutes were taken during the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, four issues were agreed to be removed from the audit report, including the issues of two conflicting financial statements and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho's presence at a 1MDB meeting despite him having no official position in the company.

Najib is accused of using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the PAC to avoid any action against him.

He allegedly committed the offence in Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26,2016.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib at the same place and time.

The hearing continues before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan on Wednesday (Nov 27).

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