KUALA LUMPUR — Tan Sri Ambrin Buang (pic) told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that he was informed by then Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa during a meeting to discuss the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report, that tarnishing the image of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would be equivalent to bringing the country’s name into disrepute.
The country’s former auditor-general, 70, said this when referring to the audio recording of the Feb 24, 2016 coordination meeting which was played in the court today.
Chaired by Ali, the attendees included then 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy and Ambrin as well as representatives from several government establishments.
The sixth prosecution witness said that during the meeting those present were worried that it would affect the country if the report tarnished Najib’s reputation.
Earlier, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram read out one of the paragraphs in the audio recording transcripts: “Let’s each department must have to manage la. Because we are meeting here basically for us, national interest and take care of our leadership”.
Sri Ram: Who was Ali referring to? And what does he want to convey to you?
Ambrin: Ali, as the nation’s top civil servant, had spoken on behalf of the government and to defend Najib. Ali said he wanted to take care of our leadership… meaning the leadership of the government under Najib.
Asked by Sri Ram whether he was worried about Najib’s reputation, Ambrin said he was only concerned about presenting his report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and defending its content at the meeting.
At one point, the witness also insisted that he had no political agenda behind the 1MDB report prepared by the National Audit Department (NAD) in 2016.
Ambrin also said that his conscience was clear when he agreed to the amendments to the 1MDB audit report despite being pressured into it.
“As far as I am concerned my conscience was very clear,” he said.
When asked by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah why he did not lodge any police report against the two conflicting 1MDB financial statements, the witness said it did not occur to him at that time.
Najib, 66, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented before the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
Both men have been charged under provisions of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which carry a maximum 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 before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Jan 9, 2020