Ali Hamsa: Top govt officials ordered earlier 1MDB audit reports to be shredded

The fourth prosecution witness, former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa. (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)

The fifth prosecution witness, Nor Salwani Muhammad, who is ICT audit director (governance sector) of the National Audit Department . (Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 20): Former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa (pictured) told the High Court today that following the Feb 24, 2016, coordination meeting he chaired, it was agreed that all the original 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit reports which were initially prepared by the National Audit Department would be shredded.

Replying to questions from senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, Ali said the order to shred the documents was to avoid causing confusion.

"At the end, we agree there should not be two or three (different) versions of the 1MDB audit report. Whatever final version that existed, that should stand," the fourth prosecution witness said in replying to questions from Sri Ram.

Ali said this was suggested in the meeting which he chaired on Feb 24, 2016.

A recording of the meeting that was over two hours in length was played in the court today.

The witness had earlier testified that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told him to convene the meeting when he and former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang met the former premier two days earlier.

Najib and former 1MDB president and CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy are facing a charge in relation to the tampering of the original 1MDB audit report.

The former prime minister is accused of abusing his power by ordering amendments to the audit report to protect himself from disciplinary, civil and criminal action prior to its submission to the Public Accounts Committee.

He is accused of committing the offence at the complex of the Prime Minister's Department through a meeting held on Feb 24, 2016.

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

Meanwhile, Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in ordering the report's amendment, at the same place and time. The charge, under Section 28(1)(c) of the MACC Act, read together with Section 23(1) and 24(1) of the Act, provides for a similar sentence, if found guilty.

When queried why he had uttered "national interests" in the recording, he said it was because the meeting was held to ensure the well-being of the country and safeguard its reputation.

In the recorded audio, Ali was heard talking about the need to safeguard the country's national interest and Najib's good name. So the former Chief Secretary said the report had to be amended to ensure there were no political, economic and policy impacts on the PM and country.

Testifying further, he agreed that there were some arguments when he attended the Feb 24, 2016 meeting.

"We have to make sure everything is the truth," he said as Sri Ram finished the prosecution's examination-in-chief.

The fifth prosecution witness, Nor Salwani Muhammad, 52, who is ICT audit director (governance sector) of the National Audit Department told the court that 60 copies of the original audit report was printed, but they were later ordered to be destroyed, after the copies were sent to 10 individuals.

Najib's defence team, led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, and Datuk N Sivananthan, who represents Arul Kanda, said they needed time to properly transcribe the Feb 24, 2016 meeting recording, and hence they would like to postpone cross-examining the former chief secretary to the government.

Sivananthan said he would hand over what his team had transcribed to the prosecution on Friday, as Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan wanted parties to agree on the transcript by Monday.

Shafee said his team is also transcribing the recording and agreed with Sri Ram that the transcript was poorly done.

The trial continues tomorrow.

For more stories on the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, click here.