KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 24): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa that a document of "talking points" will be provided to the latter in order to chair the fateful Feb 24, 2016 coordination meeting which led to the alleged tampering of the 1MDB audit report, the High Court heard today.
The 1MDB audit report was allegedly amended after the coordination meeting involving 1MDB’s chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy and top government officials, including then auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.
Replying to Najib’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in the 1MDB audit tampering trial, Ali referred to a meeting between him, Najib and Ambrin at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Feb 22, 2016, during which Najib had expressed his dissatisfaction with the audit report.
Shafee: Your involvement was to chair the coordination meeting to resolve some controversial aspect of the audit report, is that correct?
Ali: Yes, I was told to mediate and a "talking points" was given to me.
Shafee: Do you have the talking points?
Ali: I don't have it now.
Shafee: Who gave you the talking points?
Ali: According to my special officer Datuk Norazman Ayob, it was from the PMO. Who from PMO prepared it, I don't know.
Shafee: Were you not contacted or spoken to on the talking points for you to know who provided the talking points?
Ali: Yes, but I was informed by the PM then that the talking points would be provided.
However, Ali agreed that there was nothing inappropriate or illegal in the talking points, and clarified that they contained some points of contentions that need to be raised during the Feb 24 meeting.
Shafee: So you only raised the points of contention, but the decision to amend is still up to the auditor-general?
In his previous testimony last month, Ali testified that he brought up specific issues pertaining to the audit report in the Feb 24 meeting, based on a sheet of talking points that were allegedly provided to him by the PMO.
Ali admitted that he went into the meeting without knowing in detail the issues to be highlighted regarding the audit report, saying that he only had a “general idea” based on what he was told during a Feb 22 meeting at the PMO.
Ali said the talking points had specified the pages and the paragraphs of contentions to be raised during the Feb 24 meeting, confirming that this document was some sort of a guideline for him to raise issues to be discussed.
The Feb 24 meeting eventually resulted in the removal of four items from the auditor-general’s audit report on 1MDB, including mention of the existence of 1MDB’s two conflicting financial statements for the financial year 2014.
Najib is charged with abusing his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report to avoid any action being taken against him while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting the former premier in making the amendments to the report.
Both of them are 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 Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues tomorrow.
Edited by S Kanagaraju
For more stories on the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, click here.