By Aathi Shankar

A government officer, Nor Salwani Muhammad, had breached civil service rules and professional ethics by secretly recording an audit coordination meeting on 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) three years.

The 52-year-old told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that she had hidden a recording device in her immediate superior’s pencil case to record the meeting proceedings without the knowledge of anyone attending the meeting.

Among those at the meeting were then Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s chief confidential secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, Datuk Zulkifli Ahmad representing the Attorney-General Chambers, 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy, and several National Audit Department (NAD) senior officers.

Nor Salwani testified before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that she was disallowed to attend the meeting held at then Ambrin’s office on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.

The 5th prosecution witness said during the examination-in-chief that she hid the recording device in then NAD audit performance director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad’s pencil case without her superior’s knowledge.

“After the meeting ended, I took the device,” testified Nor Salwani today, Thursday November 21, 2019, the 4th hearing day of the trial.

Then a coordinator of a special preparation team on 1MDB audit report, Nor Salwani’s unprofessional and unethical misconduct to secretly record a government meeting proceedings, although praised by pro-Pakatan Harapan media and supporters as “gutsy”, amounts to an alleged criminal breach of trust.

Under the civil service rules, anyone who wants to record government meeting proceedings must first declare one’s intention to obtain consent from the chair.

Wonder why no criminal proceedings were taken against Nor Salwani, currently a NAD director in charge of administration.

The secretly recorded audio clip was heard in court yesterday, Wednesday Nov 20, and Ali Hamsa identified several voices in it.

Nor Salwani said the original recording in the device she used was deleted as the device belonged to the government, claiming that she wanted to prevent a leak of information.

The witness said in her 22-year work experience, hearing the 2 hour and 45 minutes recording of the Feb 24 meeting was “very shocking”.

“It was not normal,” she claimed.

At the end of the meeting, four issues were agreed to be removed from the audit report, including the issues of two conflicting financial statements and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho’s presence at a 1MDB meeting despite him having no official position in the company.

On Dec 12, 2018, Najib was charged for allegedly tampering the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) final audit report together with Arul Kanda.

Najib, 66, is being accused of using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.

He was charged, in his capacity as a public officer, which was as the Prime Minister, with using the position to obtain gratification for himself, which was to evade disciplinary, civil or criminal action against him in connection with 1MDB, by ordering alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was finalised and tabled to the PAC, where he directly had interest in.

The Pekan MP was accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government’s Administrative Centre, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Arul Kanda, 43, was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB, at the same place and time and in accordance with Section 28(1)(c) of the MACC Act read with Section 23(1) and 24(1) of the same act which provides for similar punishment, if found guilty.

Both their offences are punishable under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 with a maximum 20-year jail term, and a fine of at least five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000 or whichever is higher.

Former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram is leading the prosecution team together with deputy public prosecutors Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman, Mohammad Al-Saifi Hashim, Ahmad Akram, Rozaliana Zakaria, Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, Hazmida Harris Lee, Nadia Zulkefli, Tan Song Yan, Fatimah Hannah Abd Wahab, Munira Syahirah Mohamad Kamal, Nur Syakirin Yaccob and Wafa Zainal Abidin.

Najib is represented by lawyers Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah,
Harvinderjit Singh, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee and Syahirah Hanapiah while Arul Kanda is represented by counsels Datuk N. Sivananthan, Jasmine Cheong and Dhanyaa Shreeya Sukumar.

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