Malaysian Auditor-General: No conflict of interest in 1MDB probe

Malaysian Auditor-General: No conflict of interest in 1MDB probe
Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

PUTRAJAYA - Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang has given his assurance that there will be no conflict of interest in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) probe.

Ambrin said his department would submit its report to the bipartisan parliamentary Public Accounts Committee and not Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib is also Finance Minister and 1MDB advisory board chairman. The Finance Ministry owns the strategic development company.

Responding to a question at a press conference here, Ambrin said: "Since the focus is on the accounts, we will look at all of them, previous accounts included."

He said that his department had been given a "broad mandate".

Ambrin said it would do whatever was needed, including roping in external expertise or calling in Najib "if necessary", for the audit.

He said the department would give the audit priority and hoped his team would be left to do the job professionally.

Ambrin stressed that the auditing of government companies was not new to the department and was provided for under the Audit Act.

"We are no strangers to company auditing. We have experience in auditing government companies. Let us do our job professionally, quietly," he said.

Ambrin said the department began investigating 1MDB as soon as the prime Minister ordered the audit last week.

1MDB and its auditors Deloitte were called to brief the Cabinet on the state of the company and responded to questions, including from the Prime Minister and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Najib then ordered the Auditor-General to independently verify 1MDB's accounts, and said the company would face legal repercussions if there was any wrongdoing.

Ambrin said that no timeframe had been set for submitting the report to PAC as the audit should not be rushed.

"I agree that time is of the essence and we are giving this priority, but we need to balance speed with accuracy," he added.

On whether the department would also ask for email and other such records for the probe, Ambrin said: "We will do whatever is necessary within our means."

He said he had met 1MDB president and group executive director Arul Kanda, who pledged to co-operate fully in the investigation.

Asked if Arul handed over any documents to him or if they had just met for coffee, Ambrin quipped: "Not coffee, I had Milo."

"He has not presented (any documents yet) but my team has already started work," Ambrin added.

1MDB, established by the Government in 2009 to drive strategic investments, has come under heavy criticism for accumulating heavy debts.

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