KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 12): Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak's Cabinet had given the go-ahead to the National Audit Department (NAD) to probe 1Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) financial accounts even though audit firm Deloitte was also investigating the state fund, a witness testified today.

Former Cabinet deputy chief secretary Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid said Najib told a Cabinet meeting on March 4, 2015 that the NAD would conduct a probe into 1MDB for any financial irregularity, in addition to the audit undertaken by Deloitte.

While testifying against Najib and former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy in the High Court, Mazidah said Najib stated that he would also receive briefings by Deloitte Malaysia and Arul Kanda to see if there were any wrongdoings in 1MDB's financial governance.

This came at a time when there was intense scrutiny from the public and opposition lawmakers on the financial misgivings of 1MDB.

In addressing the Cabinet, Najib also said the findings would be given to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for further scrutiny, but told his ministers that it needed to be done carefully to avoid controversy.

It was at this meeting the Cabinet also agreed for Najib to release a press statement stating that the ministers were briefed about 1MDB by Deloitte and were satisfied with the audit outcome and found no financial misgivings with 1MDB.

It was reported that the 1MDB audit report was done by the NAD for the PAC in 2016. The amendments were made following a Feb 24, 2016 meeting attended by, among others, former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buan, Najib's former principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, and Arul Kanda.

The final 1MDB audit report was presented to the PAC on March 9, 2016.

If convicted, Najib and Arul Kanda 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.

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