Exclusive: Malaysia's 1MDB to be dismantled under debt plan - sources
~ 5 Mar 2015‘We will do whatever is necessary’
By Yen Ne Foo
11 March 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Auditor-General (AG) Tan Sri Ambrin Buang has pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to carry out the audit of the debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) “freely and professionally”.
“As soon as the request from the prime minister [to verify 1MDB’s accounts was given], we (the AG’s Department) have started the auditing process by collecting as much information as possible about issues which were raised, especially by the media,” Ambrin told a press conference yesterday.
“I have also met with the chief executive officer (CEO) [Arul Kanda Kandasamy] of this company and he has repeated his readiness to give full cooperation to us,” he said.
Ambrin said the AG’s Department is prepared to speak to all relevant parties, if it deems it necessary. These include various central banks in all cross-border transactions, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board, the company’s former CEO Datuk Shahrol Halmi and United Kingdom-based whistle-blower website Sarawak Report.
“We will speak to whoever we feel we should speak to. We will try, but whether or not we will succeed, we do not know yet,” he said.
Ambrin also does not rule out the possibility that the AG’s Department will engage external parties to assist in the investigation process after suggestions that the department does not have the necessary expertise for an audit of this scale and complexity.
At this point, Ambrin said he is unable to commit to a timeline for the audit process or when the AG’s report will be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), stating only that the process is a “priority” and will be completed “as soon as possible”.
“I agree that time is of the essence. When we talk about time, we have to balance speed with accuracy. We are very concerned about the quality of our work,” he said.
Ambrin’s announcement that the auditing of 1MDB’s accounts had started comes after DAP’s Lim Kit Siang questioned on Monday why the AG has yet to start investigating the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal.
Kit Siang asked if Ambrin was waiting for written instructions from Najib before starting work.
Despite making some headway in the auditing process, the scope and the AG’s Department’s terms of reference as well as the standard operating procedure the department said it is following, remain very much in the dark.
When pressed, Ambrin told reporters, “You are probing too much. Let us do our work.”
“I think the focus is on the [1MDB] accounts. So, we will look at the accounts, [including] previous accounts. [The terms of reference are] as what has been mentioned by the prime minister in his statement,” he said.
“To me, it is a very broad mandate because when you talk about accounts, you are talking about assets, liabilities, equity and all that. Any matter relating to that, we will have to study and look into. Of course, we will want to know how the company is being managed as well,” Ambrin said.
In a statement on March 4, the Prime Minister’s Office said Najib had instructed the AG to independently verify 1MDB’s accounts, adding that the AG’s report will be passed for transparent inspection to the PAC.
“If any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception,” Najib said.
On Monday, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that the police are investigating the state-owned strategic investment company and has formed a task force comprising the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to probe the company.