KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said he was “frustrated” after exiting a meeting with major stakeholders that lead to the changes in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) final audit report, the High Court heard today.
Ambrin was testifying in the joint trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB’s last CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy
The meeting which Ambrin attended was held on February 24, 2016, at the office of then chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, and was attended by several senior government officials as well as Arul Kanda.
Ambrin said his frustration was over demands to change his department’s finalised report on 1MDB that was about to be presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
During examination-in-chief by senior public deputy prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, Ambrin also explained that he had given ample time to 1MDB to provide necessary documents to the National Audit Department but they had failed to do so.
Sri Ram: At the end of the meeting, when you are heading out of the room, how do you feel?
Ambrin: I feel so frustrated.
Sri Ram: Why?
Ambrin: Because of so many reasons... You are in a room with some people who have a lot of questions about our audit report, which at that time we have already finalised our report and we prepared to defend our report at the PAC but they sort of reopen our report, of course, we are not happy. We spent a long time waiting for information but we didn’t get them. We already had our exit conference and give them time to respond.
Sri Ram: So, the process has been concluded, all done?
Ambrin: We concluded the process and we have been very patient if you look at the time frame, we have been generous.
Sri Ram: So, this caused you frustration?
Ambrin: The other frustration is that sometimes people don’t understand what is the role of the National Audit Department.
Because at the National Audit Department, we look at things based on facts and this fact must be verified by supporting documents. So where possible we just put in our report statement of facts because we didn’t get the information that we required. So, there are several cases mentioned during the recording where it is actually a statement of facts based on the info we have gathered, that is all.
Sri Ram: So, you defended those facts?
Ambrin: We defended those facts and the other thing is that when it comes to facts, the facts is very important for audit and based on facts the auditor-general is empowered to give his opinion. You may not agree with our opinion but you must give leeway to the auditor-general to make his opinion based on facts based on the facts produced by auditors.
Ambrin today repeatedly stated that the NAD was ready to present their original 1MDB final report to the PAC in a presentation that was already scheduled on February 24, 2016.
However, the report was then amended following the stakeholders meeting on February 24, 2016, where Ambrin was pressured and subsequently agreed to remove four main items from the report.
The NAD ended up presenting the edited version of the 1MDB final audit report to the PAC on March 4 and 7, 2016.
Last week, NAD director Nor Salwani Muhammad testified that Ambrin looked “fragile” and disturbed as he exited the meeting on February 24, 2016.
Ambrin is testifying against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the latter’s joint trial with 1Arul Kanda for their alleged role in tampering the fund’s final audit report.