KUALA LUMPUR: Former auditor-general Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad today agreed that Pakatan Harapan’s Cabinet has decided that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was guilty even before the former premier was charged over alleged tampering of 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) final audit report.
Madinah, 66, said this when cross-examined by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in the trial of Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy for alleged tampering with the 1MDB final audit report.
Muhammad Shafee: Tan Sri, you attended the Cabinet meeting to do a briefing on Nov 23, 2018. You knew, the people who attended the meeting were not that friendly with my client such as Lim Guan Eng, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mohamad Sabu and so on. My client was charged on Dec 12, 2018, two weeks after the meeting. I put it to you that, as the result of your briefing to the PH cabinet, the cabinet decided that my client was guilty even before he was charged. Yes, or no?
Madinah: Can I explain, Yang Arif?
To this, High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan asked the witness to answer Muhammad Shafee’s question as she could explain it during the re-examination.
Madinah then replied, “Yang Ariff, according to these minutes, yes”.
To another question, the 12th prosecution witness said that her predecessor Tan Sri Ambrin Buang was reluctant to share with her his opinions on the 1MDB issue and he asked her to read the official audit report tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in March 2016.
Madinah said that she and Ambrin were very concerned about the allegations related to the audit report on 1MDB being discussed widely around the world but was “hush-hush” in the country.
She was referring to rumours being circulated worldwide regarding the purported involvement of Najib in the alleged wrongdoing linked to 1MDB.
“With the auditor-general’s audit report in my possession and the issue surrounding 1MDB that we were made aware of, all of us in government were to tread carefully on the issue, where we would rather not mention or speak about it. It was like an understanding among us not to speak about it and this (original) audit report was in my possession.
“I asked him (Ambrin) what was in the report, whether he can tell me, especially concerning the PM (Najib) and his involvement in 1MDB, that was how I brought up the subject. I wanted to hear from him as he carried out the 1MDB audit but he was reluctant and said he could not verify and I then just left it at that,” said Madinah.
Muhammad Shafee: I put to you that you were not acting fairly by not bringing up the matter with then PM Najib when you took over the office (of auditor-general) and in March 2017, you were not honest enough in bringing it up? Madinah replied “No”.
Muhammad Shafee: You did not confront Najib because you realised he (Najib) would be relevant to your tenure as auditor-general, you got it (position) from him you did not raise it (concerns over the 1MDB audit) to protect your tenure.
Madinah answered “No”.
Muhammad Shafee: You went to see Dr Mahathir (the then PM in 2018) as you realised everyone was getting the “chop” (people allegedly removed from posts following the PH electoral victory in 2018). You wanted to protect your tenure and you became another “Datuk Nor Salwani Muhammad” to curry favour with the then PM (Dr Mahathir). Madinah replied, “I disagree”.
Nor Salwani, who is now the deputy auditor-general of National Audit Department (NAD) was ordered to destroy the original copy of 1MDB audit report, however, she secretly kept one of the original copies of the report, which the department prepared in 2016.
Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being 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.
The offences were allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.
Both of them 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.
The trial continues tomorrow. – Bernama