Najib tried to prevent PAC from getting draft of 1MDB audit report, court hears

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak tried to prevent the first version of the audit report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) from going to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to conceal his and Low Taek Jho's wrongdoings, the High Court heard.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said in his submission that Najib's act of requiring the contents of the audit report - which was marked with “Watermark 09” - to be discussed and reviewed prior to the PAC presentation violated Section 8(3) of the Audit Act 1957.

During the course of the trial, the court had heard how Najib called for a meeting on Feb 22, 2016 with the then auditor-general, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang (PW6), to discuss the audit report before requesting changes to be made.

"First the accused was not authorised by law to send for PW6. In fact, he was by the terms of the Constitution under a duty not to interfere with PW6s independence.

"The meeting on Feb 22, 2016, requiring PW6 to discuss the contents of the audit report (Watermark 09) was a violation of the secrecy injunction and a glaring contravention of Section 8(3) of the Audit Act 1957," Sri Ram said here on Tuesday (Nov 15).

The prosecution also contended that the defence never denied the two meetings in question - Feb 22 and Feb 24, 2016 - where it was said that discussions took place to ensure amendments were made to the audit report.

On Arul Kanda's indemnity, Sri Ram said as the first accused had become the 15th prosecution witness, it was at the court's sole discretion to grant him an indemnity.

"Whether he (Arul Kanda) has made a true and full discovery of all things in his evidence is - it is submitted with respect - to be determined by viewing his evidence against the totality of the prosecution's case," Sri Ram said.

Meanwhile, Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that there was no specific instruction by Najib to amend the audit report.

"His instructions were general in nature and he merely asked Arul Kanda to defend the interests of 1MDB and that the Audit Department stayed within the scope of the audit which was to verify 1MDB's accounts.

"In cross-examination, Arul Kanda agreed that whatever clarifications made were backed up with documents and that he was never asked to manipulate the truth," he said.

This was also concurred by former National Audit Department (NAD) audit director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad (PW7) who agreed in cross-examination that no one had asked her or NAD to refrain from making any adverse comments in the audit report.

Lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan, who represents Arul Kanda, submitted that his client had nothing to hide during his two days testifying as a prosecution witness.

He said Arul Kanda had made a full and true disclosure of the facts within his knowledge.

"The prosecution is not entitled to pick and choose only the favourable evidence of PW15's (Arul Kanda) evidence and disregard the evidence favourable to the defence at its whim and fancy," Sivananthan said.

Najib, 69, is accused of abusing his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report to avoid any action being taken against him while Arul Kanda, 46, is accused of abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Prime Minister's Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Both men were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (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.

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