Najib's audit tampering case: Former National Audit director grilled over what constitutes a 'final' report

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 25 Aug 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: A former National Audit Department (NAD) director was grilled at the High Court over what constitutes a “final” report with regards to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report.

Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, who was under cross-examination by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, insisted that an audit report was considered finalised when it had been sent for printing.

Shafee, who is representing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was questioning the witness on her statement to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Dec 6,2018.

Saadatul had then testified under oath that a report could not be considered final unless it was presented to the PAC and tabled in Parliament.

“Before the report is printed, it is not (considered) final, ” she said in court here on Tuesday (Aug 25).

Shafee said Saadatul had given two different answers where one was “the concept of printing” while the other was “the concept of handing over”.

Shafee: Did you not say “bila diserah barulah final” (only when it is handed over it is final)?

Saadatul: Yes.

In the case of the 1MDB audit report, Saadatul said the report had been sent to the printers, therefore it was final.

Shafee retorted that Saadatul herself had said “final” only meant a report had been presented to the Parliament.

“If you stick to the truth, it will set you free. if you don't speak the truth, you'll get caught in a thousand contradictions, ” the lawyer said.

Saadatul also told the court that amendments to an audit report could be made if there were reasonable justifications.

Shafee: Do you agree that amendment can only be done when there is justification?

Saadatul: Yes.

Shafee: If there is no justification for amendment, nobody can amend.

Saadatul. Yes, correct. We (the NAD) need all the justifications.

The witness said four amendments had been made to the 1MDB audit report, and these included the removal of the two conflicting versions of 1MDB's financial statements for 2014 and the presence of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho at the 1MDB board of directors meeting relating to the Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) investment despite Low not holding any position or role in 1MDB.

The other two issues omitted from the report were business issues; the agreement between Country Groups Securities Thailand and ACME Time Ltd, and the delay in the issuance of IMTN bonds with a government guarantee.

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 accused of 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 this afternoon.

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