KUALA LUMPUR: The former chief secretary to the government was in the hot seat at the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering trial as he was questioned about the involvement of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former principal private secretary in a meeting to discuss the report.
Tan Sri Ali Hamsa said he did not stop Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh from speaking up in a meeting on Feb 24,2016 because Shukry “was from the Prime Minister’s Office”.
The witness was under cross-examination by 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan here on Monday (July 27).
Najib is accused of using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.
He allegedly committed the offence in Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26,2016, and Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib at the same place and time.
Sivananthan questioned why Shukry - who was neither an auditor nor an audited person - had a say in the meeting to discuss the 1MDB audit report especially on the discovery of two conflicting versions of the sovereign state fund’s financial statement.
Shukry had earlier called a meeting with Ali and former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang to discuss the audit report at the PMO on Feb 22,2016.
Two days later on Feb 24, Ali called a meeting with 1MDB and other relevant agencies to discuss amendments to the report where Shukry was also present.
Sivananthan: Why did Shukri comment about the two statements when he has nothing to do with 1MDB?
Ali: I don’t recall.
Sivananthan: Why did you allow him to make comments when he has no business with the audit?
Ali: He was from the PMO.
Sivananthan: Does this give him the right to give comments? What were his interests? Why was he allowed to comment?
Ali: No answer.
Sivananthan: You allowed him to speak. You did not stop him.
Ali: I did not stop him.
Sivananthan: Is this because he is from PMO?
Sivananthan also repeatedly questioned Ali on whether the witness himself had suggested for the matters that were discussed in the meeting to be removed.
The court had earlier heard testimonies saying that there was an agreement to omit four issues from the audit report, including the issue of two conflicting financial statements and the presence of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho at a 1MDB meeting.
Ali said the meeting could discuss and suggest what needed to be removed from the audit report but essentially, it was up to Ambrin as the auditor-general to decide.
Najib and Arul Kanda were charged under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act 2009, which provides 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.
The hearing before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues this Wednesday (July 29).