Monday, December 6, 2021

No one stopped Arul Kanda from attending PAC proceedings, court told in 1MDB audit report trial

Former National Audit Department director says the report was 'special' as it was considered investigative in nature.

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The High Court in Kuala Lumpur was today told that no one had prevented former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy from attending Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proceedings to explain the company’s final audit report.

Former National Audit Department (NAD) director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, 65, said this during examination-in-chief by lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram in the trial of former prime minister Najib Razak and Arul Kanda for allegedly tampering with the final 1MDB audit report.

Sri Ram: To your knowledge, did you or anyone prevent or obstruct Arul Kanda from attending the PAC meeting to offer his explanation?

Saadatul: No.

Sri Ram: So you did nothing to prevent him?

Saadatul Nafisah: Yes.

She said Arul Kanda attended the meeting on Feb 25, 2016, a day after a meeting was held during which top government officials agreed to amend the original 1MDB audit report.

“He came with the report to request for amendments,” said the seventh prosecution witness, adding that the events that took place on Feb 24 and 25, 2016 were never discussed at the PAC meeting.

To another question, Saadatul who described the 1MDB audit report as a special audit report, said the audit report on the klia2 project was also a special one.

She said the special audit reports on the 1MDB and klia2 project were considered investigative in nature.

“This is because unlike normal audits initiated by NAD, a special audit report is sought by either the Cabinet or PAC, and the auditors are empowered to seek information not only from the auditee but also from other parties,” she added.

Sri Ram: You described this (1MDB) as a special audit. Is this the first time you (NAD) had done this?

Saadatul: No. We had done it a few times before this. There was one requested by the Cabinet on the klia2 project.

She said the audit on the klia2 project was done when Najib was prime minister, but that he (Najib) had not asked for a copy of the report nor for any changes to be made.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented to PAC to prevent any action taken against him, while Arul Kanda, 45, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

Both of them are charged under Section 23 (1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Nov 29.

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