In court, Najib’s lawyer grills former Audit Dept director over definition of ‘final report’

Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on August 25, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on August 25, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Former National Audit Department (NAD) director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad today insisted that the February 2016 audit report of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was already finalised as it had been sent for printing, the High Court was told today.

Saadatul Nafisah, who had previously led NAD’s special audit team for 1MDB, was testifying today against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is accused of abusing his position as the then prime minister to tamper with the firm’s 2016 audit report, along with former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy who is alleged to have abetted him in the process.

Under cross-examination, Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, quizzed Saadatul Nafisah on her statement to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on December 6, 2018.

He read to the court the transcripts of the PAC hearing, where Saadatul Nafisah had testified under oath that a report could not be considered final unless it was presented to the PAC, and subsequently, tabled in Parliament.

While she told the court that she had spoken the truth during the PAC hearing, she further explained that in the case of 1MDB, its February 2016 audit report was already final as a copy had been sent to the printers.

Shafee then retorted, asking her whether her statement to the PAC was the “truth”, to which she insisted that it was.

“While I stand by my statement to the PAC, what I meant to say for a report that had yet to be printed. In the case of 1MDB, its report was already printed,’’ said Saadatul Nafisah.

On February 24, 2016, a meeting was held with major stakeholders, including NAD, at then chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa’s office that eventually resulted in the removal of four items, including 1MDB’s two conflicting 2014 financial statements.  

Saadatul Nafisah had also testified in court today that amendments can be made to an audit report provided there are reasonable justifications.

In the case of 1MDB, Saadatul Nafisah stated that four amendments were made, including the omission of 1MDB’s two differing financial statements from 2014, because NAD was promised that a police report would be made by the Treasury Department on the matter.

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