Former auditor-general Madinah Mohamad told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today that she did not destroy the original copy of the 1MDB audit report after taking over the post from Ambrin Buang in 2017 as it contained material information and evidence on the company.
Madinah, 65, said she decided not to destroy the report after being informed that there were two versions of it in a briefing with the 1MDB Special Audit Team (PKA) on March 16, 2017.
“(National Audit Department) deputy director Nor Salwani Muhammad informed me that there were two versions of the 1MDB audit report and handed over the one and only original version of the report in her possession.
“Nor Salwani said her purpose in keeping the original copy was to get instruction from the the new auditor-general, that was me, on whether it should be destroyed or not,” said Madinah when reading out her witness statement in the trial of former prime minister Najib Razak and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy Arul Kanda for allegedly tampering with the final 1MDB audit report.
Madinah, who is the 12th prosecution witness, said Nor Salwani also told her that the 1MDB audit report had been printed twice, in early 2016 and on March 2 the same year.
“The report that was printed in early 2016 was the final report to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Feb 24, 2016. However, the contents of this report had been changed by dropping some paragraphs in it through a meeting chaired by the then chief secretary to the government, Ali Hamsa, on Feb 24, 2016.
“Nor Salwani also told me the initial date for the tabling of the report to PAC had been changed to March 4, 2016,” she added.
Madinah said she was also informed that the two paragraphs dropped from the original copy of the audit report were discrepancies in information on 1MDB’s financial statements and minutes of the meeting on the presence of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho at the 1MDB special board meeting dated Sept 26, 2009.
“At that time, the 1MDB audit report was classified as confidential under the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88) and therefore I could not disclose the existence of the two versions to any party.
“However, on May 15, 2018, I reclassified the report as an open document following a media statement by the (then) prime minister for it to be classified as an open document,” she said.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister at the time, after Pakatan Harapan won the 14th general election in May 2018.
Madinah said Nor Salwani also informed her that the PKA had been invited by the Council of Eminent Persons to make a presentation on May 31, 2018.
“I then instructed that an original copy of the 1MDB audit report be submitted to the council, the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in August 2018.
“After my disclosure on the existence of the two versions of the 1MDB audit report on Aug 30, 2018, I was instructed by the Prime Minister’s Department to present the matter at the Cabinet meeting on Nov 23, 2018,” she said.
She said immediately after the meeting, the Cabinet instructed her to release a media statement on several paragraphs in the 1MDB audit report which had been ordered to be dropped and amended.
“The media statement was released on Nov 24, 2018,” said Madinah.
Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented to PAC to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report, to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
The offence was allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Central Government Administrative Centre, Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.
Both were 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 no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.