KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told on Monday (Aug 24) that a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, that discussed amendments to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report would not have taken place if a preliminary meeting called by Datuk Seri Najib Razak two days earlier had not happened.
Former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, 65, admitted this when he was re-examined by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
The witness was referring to a meeting held on Feb 22, 2016, that took place at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in Putrajaya.
Sri Ram: I come back to the Feb 22 meeting. If the Feb 22 meeting did not take place, would the meeting on the 24th take place?
Ali: No, it would not have taken place.
The Feb 22 meeting was attended by Najib, Ali, former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Najib’s former principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh.
According to Ali’s witness statement, Najib had informed Ambrin and Ali in the Feb 22 meeting that he was not satisfied with the contents of the 1MDB audit report which was scheduled to be presented before the Public Accounts Committee on Feb 24, 2016.
In the same meeting, Najib mentioned that he did not want two different financial statements for 1MDB to be submitted in the audit report.
The witness said Najib had promised then that he would “get to the bottom of it” and Ambrin had responded in the meeting that he was willing to be part of the meeting on Feb 24.
The court had previously heard testimonies that a coordination meeting between 1MDB and several related agencies was called on Feb 24 to discuss amendments to the audit report, as instructed by Najib.
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.
Earlier, during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Ali said Najib appeared upset during the meeting on Feb 22.
Shafee: You did mention that Najib seemed upset.
Shafee: Would you know the reason why he was upset?
Ali: Not exactly.
Shafee: You saw (Najib looking upset) as soon as you walked into the room?
Shafee: When you left the room, you do not know what would probably caused the prime minister to be upset?
Ali: I didn’t get any answer to that. Nobody explained to me.
The witness also said that he was informed by Najib that talking points would be provided by the PMO for the Feb 24 meeting, which Ali called at Najib’s behest.
Ali reiterated that he did not put pressure the former auditor-general to make changes in the audit report.
Shafee: He (Ambrin) said he was exhausted and drained of his energy when he left the room on Feb 24. What is your comment? Did he look upset? Drained of his energy when he left your room?
Ali: It (the meeting) ended on a jovial note and I did send him to the door. He seemed normal.
Najib, 67, is accused of abusing his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report to avoid any action being taken against him while former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report.
Both men 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 tomorrow (Aug 25).
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