KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak used his powers to instruct for changes to be made in 2016 to the auditor-general's audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) before it could be given to the bipartisan parliamentary watchdog Public Accounts Committee, an investigator with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said today.

MACC senior enforcement officer Haniff Lami said this as the 16th prosecution witness in the corruption trial against Najib in relation to the alleged tampering of the 1MDB audit report.

Haniff is the investigating officer for this case, where Najib is on trial for having allegedly abused his powers for self-gratification and where former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is jointly on trial for allegedly abetting Najib in committing the alleged offence.

"Based on my investigation, the second accused in this case, had used his powers as prime minister and finance minister at that time by ordering for the audit report on 1MDB to be amended before it can be tabled at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on February 24, 2016. For Arul Kanda Kandasamy (the first accused), he had abetted the second accused in this case," Haniff told the High Court today

In concluding what investigations had uncovered in this case, Haniff said Najib had ordered the prime minister's then principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh to obtain the 1MDB audit report and to give a copy to then 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda for checks to be made.

Haniff said investigations showed that Najib had ordered a meeting in his Putrajaya office on February 22, 2016 which was attended by former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and the late chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa.

Haniff said that Najib had in that meeting ordered Ali to hold a coordination meeting between the National Audit Department (NAD) and Arul Kanda to discuss matters which he was "dissatisfied" with in the NAD's 1MDB audit report, and that Najib had also said the 1MDB audit report is not to be printed until he gives his permission.

Haniff said Ali had then held a meeting on February 24, 2016 which Arul Kanda attended, and that this meeting resulted in amendments being made to the 1MDB audit report on four items, including the existence of two different financial statements for 1MDB for the year 2014, and the presence of Low Taek Jho in a meeting.

After that meeting, the auditor-general's 1MDB audit report which was tabled to the PAC on March 4, 2016 and March 7, 2016 was a report which "had been amended subsequent to the second accused's order," he said.

"My investigation findings show that was done by the first accused and the second accused to protect themselves from any civil or criminal action related to 1MDB operations," he said.

In this trial, Najib is accused of having as then prime minister and then finance minister abused his position between February 22, 2016 and February 26, 2016 to receive self-gratification in the form of protection from civil or criminal action over his role in the handling of 1MDB operations, by instructing for amendments to the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB - which was already finalised and ready to be presented to the parliamentary watchdog Public Accounts Committee (PAC) - before it was finally presented to the PAC.

The trial before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan is scheduled to resume on August 18.

While Arul Kanda was charged with abetting in committing the offence, he had also been called in to testify as the 15th prosecution witness in this trial.

Arul Kanda currently remains as an accused person despite being a prosecution witness, as the High Court will only decide at a later stage ---- after all prosecution witnesses had testified ---- whether he had told the whole truth and should be freed from his charge.

Arul Kanda sat in the dock today with Najib.

Najib's defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had yet to finish cross-examining Arul Kanda, but was not present in court today as he is unwell and has a medical certificate from yesterday.

Instead of Shafee, Najib's lawyer Rahmat Hazlan cross-examined Haniff today.

In response to Rahmat's questions, Haniff agreed the objective of an investigation is to discover the truth, and said that investigations do not focus only on the complaint lodged but also in identifying any possible offences and agreed that the investigations also have to probe the versions of events given by a suspect.

Haniff agreed that MACC would typically start investigations --- after a complaint has been lodged --- by recording statements and obtaining documents, alos agreeing that there could be further investigations and obtaining of further documents after a statement is recorded.

Haniff agreed that investigation papers that are completed would then be referred to the prosecution to seek for instructions for further action or for consent to press charges.

Rahmat outlined the timeline of events that had happened, starting from MACC receiving the complaint on November 26, 2018 and Najib and Arul Kanda being arrested and having their statements recorded respectively on December 10, 2018 and December 11, 2018, and with then attorney-general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas on December 10, 2018 signing on instructions to approve the pressing of charges. Najib and Arul Kanda were charged on December 12, 2018.

Rahmat then sought to suggest that the permission to charge Najib and Arul Kanda was issued before the duo were arrested, and questioned how a suspect's version of events could be investigated when orders to be prosecuted were given before statements were recorded. >>>

But Haniff said investigations had been done comprehensively before Najib and Arul Kanda were charged, and said investigators had actually recorded both their statements before they were arrested.

"The recording of Najib's statement was on December 6, 2018. Statement as witness was before arrest on December 10, 2018," he said, agreeing that investigations were carried out on Najib's version of events in the four days before the AG signed the consent to charge.

Rahmat suggested that the attorney-general had issued orders to charge Najib before a fair and complete investigation was given for Najib.

"This is the defence's version, you can agree, disagree or say no comment. If you want to elaborate, you can elaborate. This is my version, the defence's version, based on the facts, the investigation process was so fast where the complaint was only on November 26, the recording of Najib's statement on December 6, it all happened so fast, I say to you that Datuk Seri Najib was not given an investigation which is complete and fair," Rahmat said.

Haniff then replied: "Disagree".

Shafee is expected to cross-examine Haniff on a later date, while Arul Kanda's lawyer Datuk N. Sivananthan is also expected to cross-examine him at a further date.

The trial before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan is scheduled to resume on August 18.