KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — Then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was concerned the auditor-general’s completed audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) would be spun politically to his detriment, former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy told the High Court today.
Arul Kanda said this was why Najib had asked him to attend a meeting on February 24, 2016, when amendments to the report were discussed between the auditor-general, Arul Kanda, and government officials, despite the document being ready for presentation to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“So, I received a phone call from Datuk Seri Najib on 23rd, the day before, and he asked me to attend the meeting in my capacity as president of 1MDB,” he said.
When lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram asked if Najib had explained why Arul Kanda needed to attend the meeting, the latter said yes.
“So, there were a number of reasons given by Datuk Seri, one of the key reasons was to defend the interests of the company, he also mentioned to ensure that the Jabatan Audit stuck within the scope of audit, which was to verify the accounts of 1MDB.
“And he also mentioned that he had some concerns that the contents of the report could be spun from a political perspective,” Arul Kanda added.
Asked if he was influenced by what Najib had told him when he attended the February 24 meeting, Arul Kand said: “I had what he said in mind, ensuring the interest of the company was protected, ensuring the scope of the audit was relevant to the terms of reference of the Jabatan Audit Negara and yes, I also had in mind concerns that findings in the report could be spun politically.”
Sri Ram: Spun to whose detriment?
Arul Kanda: My understanding is it would be to Datuk Seri’s detriment.
Sri Ram: Which Datuk Seri?
Arul Kanda: Datuk Seri Najib.
Arul Kanda was testifying as the 15th prosecution witness in Najib’s corruption trial over amendments to the auditor-general’s 1MDB audit report.
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.
Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib, but the High Court today granted the prosecution’s application to have Arul Kanda be called in as a prosecution witness.
MORE TO COME