KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s former principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh told the High Court here today that the former prime minister had instructed him not to include sensitive issues involving fugitive businessmen Low Taek Jho or Jho Low in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report.
Shukry, 67, said Najib gave him the instruction two days after a meeting on the audit report which was held at the office of the then Chief Secretary to the Government (KSN), Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa, on Feb 24, 2016.
“On Feb 26, 2016, I met Najib in his office and Najib instructed me more or less like this, ‘Shukry, you tell the audit that sensitive and irrelevant issues, including on Jho Low (involvement). If the opposition finds out, it will be an issue
Shukry said this when reading out his witness statement at Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s trial for alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report.
According to the 11th prosecution witness, after that, he contacted Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, who was then a director at the National Audit Department (JAN), and conveyed Najib’s instructions.
Shukry said that on Feb 23, 2016, he and Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who was then the Auditor-General, met Ali at his office, and were that a meeting would be held the next day (Feb 24, 2016) and that representatives from JAN, 1MDB, Treasury and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) had been invited to attend.
“During the meeting I informed Tan Sri Ali and Tan Sri Ambrin that the 1MDB issue had become a crisis that needed to be addressed immediately.
What I meant by ‘crisis that needs to be addressed immediately’ was that the 1MDB issue had become the focus of all parties, at home and abroad.
“Before meeting Tan Sri Ambrin, Tan Sri Ali and I had met with Arul Kanda separately where Arul Kanda explained to Tan Sri Ali on 1MDB’s financial issues,” he said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Nadia Zulkefli.
Shukry, whose contract as Najib’s principal private secretary ended on Sept 30, 2016, said he had attended a meeting chaired by Ali in his office on Feb 24, 2016 and his attendance at the meeting had been approved by Najib.
“The meeting was also attended by Arul Kanda; JAN representatives Ambrin and Saadatul Nafisah; representatives from the Treasury Datuk Seri Mohmad Isa Hussain and Asri [email protected] Hamidon, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Senior Private Secretary to Tan Sri Ali, Datuk Norazman Ayob.
“At the meeting, the KSN (Ali) explained that the purpose of the meeting was to coordinate some matters that Najib was not satisfied with in the 1MDB audit report,” he said, adding that the meeting also discussed the two versions of the 1MDB’s financial statements for 2014.
Shukry said he told the meeting that it would affect outsiders confidence if a company like 1MDB could be manipulated and of its implications on investment.
“During the meeting, KSN instructed Mohmad Isa to lodge a police report on the two versions of 1MDB’s financial statements for 2014 so that investigation could be carried out and from the outcome of the meeting, Tan Sri Ambrin agreed to remove the matter from the 1MDB’s Audit Report,” he said, adding that the meeting agreed to drop the matter after getting the opinion from the AGC’s representative.
According to Shukry, he also raised the issue on the postponement of the issuance of the Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) and on Najib not informing the matter to the cabinet.
IMTN involves the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which was renamed to 1MDB in 2009.
Meanwhile, when questioned by senior public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram whether he knew the connection between Najib and 1MDB, Shukry replied: “I only know that he was the chairman”.
After Shukry finished reading the witness statement, an audio recording of the meeting on the 1MDB audit report on Feb 24, 2016, lasting two hours 45 minutes, was played again in court and Shukry confirmed having attended the meeting.
Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda, 45, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.
Both of them are charged under Section 23 (1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not 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 Oct 20.