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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Auditor-General Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad has confirmed that the content of the original audit report on scandal-plagued fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had been tampered with and altered.
This comes amid reports that Datuk Seri Najib Razak wanted his involvement and fugitive broker Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, omitted from the report prepared by the-then auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.
In a statement, Madinah listed down in chronological order all the times the report was altered. It started back in February 20, 2016 where the former private secretary to ex-prime minister Najib, Tan Sri Shukry Salleh had requested for the 1MDB audit team to prepare a final audit report on the troubled state fund.
Two days later, during a meeting with Najib and in the presence of former Chief Secretary Tan Sri Ali Hamsa and former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, the former prime minister had ordered the removal of two paragraphs from the audit report which contained its 2014 financial statement and recommendations for a full investigation by authorities on 1MDB.
Because of that, the audit report which was supposed to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on February 24, 2016 was postponed to March 4 and 7 of the same year.
On February 23, 2016, during a meeting at the Chief Secretary’s office which was attended by Ali, Shukry and Ambrin, the 1MDB audit team was informed that the government had classified the final audit report of 1MDB as a “crisis”. The next day, during another meeting but this time with 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, representatives from the Attorney-General’s Office (AGC) and Ministry of Finance, it was decided that a few more paragraphs from the report had to be removed and amended.
On February 25, the audit team was instructed by the ex-Chief Secretary to attend a meeting at his office with Najib and Arul to “continue” discussions about the final audit report where more reported findings were ordered to be removed. The next day, Shukry instructed a paragraph detailing Low’s attendance during a 1MDB board of directors meeting to be removed from the audit report.
Shukry claimed back then that this was done so that the federal opposition would not “exploit” the facts to an otherwise sensitive issue. On February 28, 2016 Shukry had asked for the amended version of the 1MDB audit report to be given to him. The next day, the final report was given to the ex-Chief Secretary.
Then on March 1, the ex-Chief Secretary instructed the 1MDB audit team to once again convene at his office to discuss the amended final version of the report. This time, only he and 1MDB’s Arul went through the report, page after page with the audit team.
More amendments were then made.
On March 2, the finalised version of the 1MDB audit report was printed and the next day, two copies were handed to Shukry as well as Ali. On March 4 and 7, Ambrin tabled the final report to the PAC.
“On November 23, 2018, I briefed the Cabinet on these amendments to the final audit report of 1MDB before it was finalised and presented to the PAC on March 4, 2016,” Madinah said in the statement, adding that the Cabinet had instructed her to come out with an official statement on the matter.
Last month, Ambrin had insisted that nobody had tampered with his report, as he had full authority over it.
This comes as Najib repeatedly claimed that his relationship with Low was strictly professional and was forged with the country’s economic interests in mind.
The former prime minister also blamed US investment banking goliath Goldman Sachs for failing to safeguard Malaysia’s interests by not alerting his administration of Low’s efforts to defraud the Malaysian investment firm.