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Salwani did not breach any code of conduct, says Ambrin

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 27): National Audit Department (NAD) director Nor Salwani Muhammad did not breach any code of conduct by recording the fateful Feb 24, 2016 meeting between top government officials, former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang told the High Court today.

Ambrin said this in reply to a question from Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering trial, where the audio recording of the meeting has become a key piece of evidence.

Salwani had previously testified that she slipped a recording device inside a pencil case belonging to her superior, NAD audit director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, right before leaving the room as she was asked to do so prior to the start of the meeting.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives from the NAD, 1MDB, the Attorney General's Chamber, as well as then chief secretary of the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's chief private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh, discussed and agreed to amend and destroy the original 1MDB audit report.

Salwani was the coordinator of the NAD special 1MDB audit report team, tasked to audit 1MDB in 2015 in order to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Sri Ram: There was a group of you [from NAD] that went to the meeting, but only the two of you (Ambrin and Saadatul Nafisah) remained in the room. Salwani was not in the room, correct?

Ambrin: She (Salwani) was supposed to be in the room but was asked to leave because, I assume, of the limited space in the room. So she was asked to wait outside.

Sri Ram: What was her function had she attended meeting; what could've been her role?

Ambrin: As the coordinator, she was supposed to take down notes of the discussion, because the meeting was to discuss very important issues relating to our report. And as coordinator there is a standing instruction that she has to follow at all the meetings.

Sri Ram: When she placed that recording device in the pencil case of Puan Nafisah, would you describe that as a breach of the code of conduct?

Ambrin: No, because if she had been able to attend the meeting, there was no need to record. She would've just taken down notes, just like any other meeting. And it was for internal use [anyway].

Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy have claimed trial in the audit report tampering case.

Najib is charged with abusing his power to amend the final 1MDB audit report before it was submitted to the PAC to protect himself from disciplinary, civil and criminal actions while Arul Kanda has been charged with abetting the former premier.

If convicted, they face a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of at least five times the amount of gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The trial continues tomorrow morning.

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