Federal auditors would have sniffed out money transfers to Good Star with access to 1MDB books, court told

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Courts Complex October 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Courts Complex October 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — The Auditor General and the National Audit Department (NAD) could have detected the USD700 million transfers from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to Good Star Limited has they been granted access to the sovereign wealth fund’s accounts, the High Court heard today.

1MDB former chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi had agreed with lead defence Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah suggestion that federal auditors, who had requested to audit the company’s accounts in 2010, could have linked Good Star to its true owner, fugitive financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Testifying against Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the latter’s 1MDB corruption trial, Shahrol was being quizzed by Shafee earlier on why the sovereign wealth fund had agreed, under Low’s advice, to “restrict” and subsequently refuse access to federal auditors to audit its books.

Shafee: You agree with me, now with hindsight, that on 30th September 2009, a staggering USD700 million was sent to Good Star?

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee: You agree with me, now hindsight, that if the Auditor-General had gone into the papers and accounts of 1MDB, as they proposed, they would have discovered this in July 2010 or earlier, that Jho Low was playing with 1MDB.

Shahrol: Yes

The Auditor-General had requested to perform due diligence following the completion of the federalisation process that sees the transfer of ownership from Terengganu Investment Authority to 1MDB in July 2009.

Additionally, the NAD had in October 2010, sent a letter to 1MDB, requesting additional documents on its accounts.

However, this request was also denied by both the 1MDB board of directors and Najib, said Shahrol.

Shahrol explained that Low had advice that access to the firm’s information by third parties must be approved by the board of directors and endorsed by Najib.

Shahrol said Low had impressed on him that the restrictions of information were done to ensure that any sensitive information could not be used as “political attacks” against Najib.

Shafee had also grilled Shahrol on why he had not checked with Najib whether he had approved or otherwise to prevent the audit and instead chose to believe instructions given to Low on the matter.

Shahro added that Najib had never, throughout the period, instructed him to proceed with the audit and reiterated that the former prime minister’s actions are in tandem with Low’s instructions. 

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