Ambrin: Govt was worried 1MDB audit report would tarnish PM, Malaysia’s image

Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The Najib administration in 2016 was deeply concerned the National Audit Department’s (NAD) findings on the financial state of affairs of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) would harm the then prime minister’s reputation, said Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang to the High Court today.

Testifying against Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB’s former CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy in their joint trial for allegedly tampering the fund’s final audit report, Ambrin stated that senior government officials at a meeting on February 24, 2016, wanted to protect the former prime minister from scrutiny over critical findings within the final 1MDB audit report.

Ambrin had confirmed this during examination-in-chief by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who had quizzed the former federal auditor on what was discussed during the 2016 meeting.

Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Earlier today, an audio recording of the meeting was played to Ambrin in the court as reference for him to confirm the discussions held on that day, while a transcript of the recording that was prepared by the prosecution was also provided to him.

Ambrin was being questioned by Sri Ram on the transcripts where former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa had remarked that there is a need to protect Najib as his image is tied to the nation’s reputation.

“The more that it is revealed, the harder for us to defend, especially for YAB PM, his name will be tarnished. If his name is tarnished, nationally we are tarnished also,’’ said Ali.

Sri Ram: So, you were there when the statement was made what impact did it have on your mind?

Ambrin: It is a message from his side to say the government is very worried about the content of the audit report and some of the issues need to be discussed and if necessary, has to be amended.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 28, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Sri Ram: Why?

Ambrin: Based on the opening statement in that meeting, it is very clear to us that the govt is very worried about the report being used by the opposition.

Sri Ram: Impact on who?

Ambrin: They used the word government here. There is this sentence “kita defend, especially for YAB PM.”

Sri Ram: It says “his name will be tarnished”, what did you understand on and the report will impact whom?

Ambrin: Within the specific statement by the chief secretary, so I presume he is speaking on behalf of the government.

Sri Ram: To protect whose name?

Ambrin: As stated in the statement, to defend especially YAB PM.

In a separate conversation in the transcript, Najib’s former principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, had voiced his concern on the audit report stating that Najib did not inform the Cabinet on the decision by Terengganu ruler and then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin to hold the issuance of the Islamic Medium Term Note (IMTN) in 2009.

Shukry was worried that the report might indicate as if Najib had intended to “hide the fact and not to tell the Cabinet that something wrong”.

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