Arul Kanda, Najib to face one charge each over tampered 1MDB audit report

Arul Kanda was the 1MDB group president and chief executive officer from January 2015 to June 2018.
Arul Kanda was the 1MDB group president and chief executive officer from January 2015 to June 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) group president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy was arrested on Tuesday (Dec 11) and will be charged on Wednesday over alleged tampering of the state investment fund's final audit report.

Arul Kanda's lawyer N. Sivananthan confirmed that he was formally arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at 10.30am.

“They (MACC) will be producing him in court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning to be charged along with (former Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Najib (Tun Razak),” Sivananthan told reporters at the MACC headquarters here. Najib had been arrested at the MACC on Monday, but was later released on bail.

“As far as we know, it is only Datuk Seri Najib and Arul. I'm not sure if there's any other person who is going to be charged tomorrow,” the lawyer said.

Najib will face the charge of abusing his position as premier to order the auditor-general to remove certain parts from the 1MDB final report.

Arul Kanda, who helmed the scandal-ridden company from January 2015 to June this year, will be charged with abetting Najib in committing the offence.

One of the changes made to the 1MDB final audit report was the removal of a paragraph or paragraphs mentioning the presence of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low at a meeting of the 1MDB board of directors, Auditor-General Madinah Mohamad has said.

She revealed that the directive to make the changes had come from Shukry Salleh, who had served as the principle private secretary to Najib when he was prime minister.

The changes were made on Feb 26, 2016, on grounds that it was a sensitive issue and to prevent this from being manipulated by the political opposition.

Madinah said the original 1MDB final audit report without the amendments and removal of paragraphs was handed over to the MACC and police for their action.

Besides Najib and Arul Kanda, MACC has also questioned top officials mentioned by Madinah - former chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa, her predecessor Ambrin Buang and ex-MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad, who had attended one of the meetings as a legal officer with the Attorney General's Chambers.

Sources in MACC confirmed that Arul Kanda and Najib would face one charge each.

"Najib was said to have asked the auditor-general to remove certain things from the final audit report. This is tantamount to abuse of power," said a source.

Najib is facing close to 40 charges involving corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering - all involving 1MDB.

Arul Kanda and his lawyer had arrived at the MACC headquarters at 9.30am Tuesday. He nearly evaded the media by wearing a black cap and entering the MACC building via a back entrance. But journalists spotted him at the MACC reception.