KUALA LUMPUR • The office of former Malaysian premier Najib Razak ordered changes to a 2016 audit report of scandal-plagued state fund 1MDB, including removing mention of financier Low Taek Jho's presence at a board meeting, the authorities said.
Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, has been described as a central player in the alleged corruption and money laundering at 1Malaysia Development Bhd, according to Malaysian and US authorities investigating the fund.
He had no official role in 1MDB but advised on investments and negotiated deals for the fund, the authorities have said.
Najib, ousted in a May 9 election by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Pakatan Harapan coalition, is facing multiple charges of graft, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust related to 1MDB. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement dated last Saturday, Malaysia's Auditor-General Madinah Mohamad said "several" findings from the audit report submitted in February 2016 to Najib were "dropped and amended".
"The former prime minister ordered the deletion of the paragraph containing two versions of the 1MDB financial statement for the year ended 2014 and directed an investigation to be carried out by the enforcement authorities," she said in a statement.
Najib's then private secretary also "directed the former auditor-general to drop the paragraph on the presence of Low in one of the 1MDB board meetings on the grounds that it is sensitive and to avoid the fact being twisted around by the opposition".
In an interview with Reuters in June, Najib said he should not be blamed for the scandal at 1MDB and that he knew nothing about money from the state fund appearing in his personal account.
Malaysia, under the premiership of Najib, classified the audit report in 2016 under the Official Secrets Act when the fund's financial troubles were being investigated.
The Mahathir government in May declassified the report.