Reason for late reporting of tampering will be given later —PAC

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will wait until the end of its inquiry to reveal the reason given by senior executives of the National Audit Department for waiting until the last month to publicly allege that the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) final audit report was tampered.

“We will be saving this [information] in our final report [on the inquiry]. I cannot comment much on that,” PAC’s deputy chairman Wong Kah Woh told reporters at the parliament building yesterday.

Wong was asked whether Auditor-General (AG) Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad and the department’s 1MDB auditing team leader Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad have provided the reason for the delay in revealing the alleged tampering.

Saadatul Nafisah testified at the PAC inquiry yesterday.

Wong said her statement was “packed with information” although no new names or witnesses came out.

Madinah was appointed AG on Feb 23, 2017 to replace Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

She recently came out to publicly say the 1MDB final audit report was edited several times a few days before it was forwarded to the PAC on March 4, 2016.

Ambrin was the AG at the time, and he reportedly signed off the edited copy to be presented to the PAC.

The key amendments, according to Madinah, included the removal of a paragraph or paragraphs stating that Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) had attended a meeting of 1MDB’s board of directors, as well as the removal of a paragraph or paragraphs stating there were two versions of 1MDB financial statements for the year ending 2014.

From Madinah’s accounting of what took place, the orders to alter the audit report was done under the instruction of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak following meetings between Feb 22 and March 1, 2016.

Attending many of the meetings were former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, 1MDB president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy, Najib’s former chief private secretary and former Bank Rakyat chairman Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, as well as Ambrin himself.

Ambrin, who was questioned by the PAC on the matter on Tuesday, reportedly insisted that the edited report was a draft.

Sources close to the proceedings also said Ambrin questioned how Madinah would know about the details of the meeting if she was not present.

The PAC is expected to call in Arul Kanda and Ali Hamsa to record their statements. The committee also does not discount the possibility of Najib being called up as well.

The inquiry will continue in mid-January.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Dec 7, 2018.

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