Najib’s cabinet agreed for 1MDB report to be reviewed by Auditor-General – Witness

Najib’s cabinet agreed for 1MDB report to be reviewed by Auditor-General – Witness

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today was told that Cabinet ministers (under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) had agreed for the Auditor-General to study the audit report of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), prepared by the audit firm, Deloitte Malaysia.

Former deputy chief secretary (Cabinet), Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid, 72, while reading out her witness statement, said the decision was reached at the Cabinet meeting on March 4, 2015, which was attended by 36 ministers, and was later confirmed in the minutes of the meeting dated March 13, 2015.

Mazidah said she was present at the meeting as her job as the deputy chief secretary (Cabinet) was to assist the Chief Secretary to the Government record the minutes of the meeting.

Referring to the minutes of the meeting, Mazidah said Najib had told Cabinet members in a special message (during the meeting) that the auditor-general would review 1MDB’s financial and investment management audit report, prepared by Deloitte Malaysia, and obtain supporting documents to ensure the company’s investment was in order.

“Datuk Seri Najib added that another briefing that would be presented in this Cabinet meeting was from Deloitte Malaysia, to determine whether there was any misconduct such as corruption or misuse of funds and so on, pertaining to 1MDB.

“The briefing by 1MDB’s chief executive officer (Arul Kanda Kandasamy at the time) was to focus on clarifying 1MDB’s position and recovery plan to address short and long-term cash flow problems regarding its debt obligations, to ensure the company’s sustainability,” she said during the examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor, Nadia Zulkefli, at the trial of Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, on alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.

According to the ninth prosecution witness, Najib, in his special message, also said that after the Auditor-General examined and confirmed the 1MDB audit report by Deloitte Malaysia, it would be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“However, Datuk Seri Najib said the presentation of the report to the PAC on 1MDB should be considered and planned carefully, to avoid the facts or issues of the company being distorted, for example, through the leakage of information to third parties, and becoming controversial,” she said.

Meanwhile, when cross-examined by Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, whether the decision (to study the audit report) was communicated to the relevant agencies, namely the National Audit Department (NAD) and PAC, Mazidah said she only informed NAD, but not PAC, because it (PAC) was not under her portfolio.

Muhammad Shafee: Does Tan Sri agree that Datuk Seri Najib, as the then Prime Minister and Finance Minister, proposed this (study of 1MDB’s audit report) to ensure that 1MDB’s rights are protected?

Mazidah: Yes, based on the Cabinet meeting’s minutes.

Muhammad Shafee: As the then Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib had no personal interest in 1MDB, except for official interests?

Mazidah: It is Datuk Seri Najib’s responsibility (to raise the matter).

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report, to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

Both of them were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission 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 trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Sept 9. — Bernama