Thursday, July 14, 2016

TI-M: Now is the best time to declassify 1MDB audit report


In the wake of whistleblower site Sarawak Report's leaks on what it claimed to be parts of the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB, Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) believes that now is the best time to declassify the audit report.

The anti-corruption NGO's president, Akhbar Satar, found it strange that the report was still kept under wraps.

“The audit report gives us some of the truth, why the hesitation and indeed the refusal to ‘let the truth be told’?” he asked.

This is especially since the government had repeatedly denied wrongdoings in the 1MDB scandal and claimed that the allegations from various quarters were untrue, Akhbar said.

“The delay in declassifying the report allows the public to unnecessarily form its assumptions on what could have happened in 1MDB, including issues of the financial management of the company, dubious transactions and corrupt practices which ultimately may not be true,” he added.

In further questioning why the report was sealed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), Akhbar wondered whether there was something inside the report that the government wants to hide from the public.

“If so, it can be considered an abuse of the OSA,” he said.

Declassifying the report would enable the government to prove to the public that it is transparent, accountable and that there is nothing to hide, he said.

“After all, this audit report is the result of following the prime minister’s own instructions to the auditor-general to audit 1MDB,” added Akhbar.

The right to know

He said declassifying the report would also stop Sarawak Report from further publishing its purported contents.

“Since 1MDB is owned by the government and funded using the taxpayers’ money, TI-M holds strongly to the view that the public has the right to know how the money was managed by the board of directors and senior management and if there was any fraud or wrongdoing committed by any of the persons entrusted to manage it,” he added.

Sarawak Report last week claimed it had gained access to the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB as well as key accompanying documents from the inquiry.
The whistleblower site listed out the various concerns that auditor-general Ambrin Buang had pointed out in his report, especially with regard to several questionable fund transfers.
The auditor-general’s report on 1MDB was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on March 4.

A month later, Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia had however refused to allow the report to be tabled in Parliament as the report had yet to be declassified.

Anyone found guilty of possessing OSA-classified documents is liable to punishment, among others, with at least a mandatory one-year jail sentence.

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