Auditor General Ambrin must buck up as six-day inaction on investigation into 1MDB dereliction of duty
The Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang must buck up and get on with his work and responsibility as the six-day inaction on investigations into the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal is a major dereliction of duty.
Malaysians want to know why the Auditor-General has not swung into immediate action to investigate into the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history after the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had directed him on Wednesday to independently verify 1MDB’s accounts
Malaysians can still remember the poor and unacceptable reasons given by Ambrin last November why he was not auditing 1MDB accounts.
This was what Ambrin said on November 12, 2014 at a media session in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the third series of the auditor’s report 2013:
“My answer is as far as their accounts are concerned, it has already been audited by one of the big four (audit firms), so there is no reason why we should ask them to open up their books because auditing financial statements is very laborious (with) examination of documents and things like that.”
Ambrin was rightly flayed in the media for “passing the buck to The Big Four”, and “lectured” that if auditors were infallible, there would be no financial scandals in the world.
Ambrin, as Auditor-General, was also subjected to the humiliation of being reminded of the big financial scandals despite employing leading audit firms, viz:
- Enron which was audited by Andersen;
- Malaysia’s BBMB which was audited by Touche Ross (later swallowed up by Deloittee who happen to be 1MDB’s current auditor), and the fact that Deloitte was the auditor in the Transmile scandal;
- Lehman Brothers, the golden boy of investment banking that went spectacularly bankrupt in 2008 despite having Ernest & Young, one of the Big Four, as auditors.
The 1MDB had in fact gone through three of the “Big Four” in the space of five years – first Ernst & Young, who resigned without signing a single set of accounts; then KPMB which resigned in late 2013 without signing off the accounts; and now Deloitte.
Have the reasons for the resignation of two of the Big Four as 1MDB auditors been explained to the Cabinet on Wednesday, resulting in the Cabinet expressing confidence that no wrongdoing had been committed within 1MDB?
Apparently not, or the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would not have rushed out a statement on Friday night, specifically pointing out that “some of the accusations of wrongdoing hurled at the strategic investment fund were in relation to transactions made since 2009, which were not included in the 2013 accounts audited by Deloitte”!
This would be Ambrin’s most challenging and onerous task as Auditor-General for he would in fact be auditing the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister and not just the 1.4 million civil servants in his series of Auditor-General’s Reports up to now, and in the process deciding the future of the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia!
This is in fact one potent reason why Najib should immediately relinquish his portfolio as Minister of Finance, to reduce the conflict-of-interest complications in the 1MDB scandal.
But this can be no excuse for Ambrin’s failure to swing into immediate action to audit the 1MDB accounts in the past six days, and his inability to announce the scope and terms of reference of audit investigations into 1MDB and the time frame as to when he would complete the audit.
Or is Ambrin’s inaction in the past six days simply because he had not received any written instruction from the Prime Minister despite the PMO statement issued after Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that “As a further step, the Prime Minister informed Cabinet that he has instructed the Auditor General to independently verify 1MDB’s accounts.”
From the PMO statement, the Auditor General should have received written instructions from the Prime Minister before the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday to vet the 1MDB’s accounts, unless the PMO was not stating the truth!
Or are we having a replay of what happened with regard to the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS), where it was publicly announced that a Working Committee for follow-up on the Report had been established, but Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who was announced as Chairman of the RCIIIS Report Working Committee, did not receive his letter of appointment until some two months later.
Will Ambrin have to wait for two months before he received the Prime Minister’s instruction to verify the 1MDB accounts?
In fact, the question that should be posed is whether Ambrin had to wait for Najib’s instruction to conduct an audit of 1MDB accounts?
The answer is No. There should be no dilly-dally by the Auditor-General who should immediately swing into action to audit the 1MDB accounts, whether he receives written instruction from the Prime Minister or not.
The same applies to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Is the PAC Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad going to listen to the Prime Minister, who wants the PAC to wait for the Auditor-General’s audit of 1MDB or the Deputy Prime Minister, who wants the PAC to investigate the 1MDB accounts immediately?
Nur Jazlan and the PAC members do not have to listen to the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, but should be guided by their parliamentary mandate and responsibility spelt out in the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders 77 (1)(a) to conduct examination of “the accounts of the Federation and the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure”; SO 77 (1) (b) “such accounts of public authorities and other bodies administering public funds as may be laid before the House” and SO 77(1)(d) “such other matters as the Committee may think fit, or which may be referred to the Committee by the House”.
It is clear that the PAC has full powers under Standing Orders 77 to examine the 1MDB accounts if it “thinks fit” – i.e. if the UMNO, MCA and Gerakan members in the PAC are prepared to put national interests above party and self interests, and agree with the five Pakatan Rakyat MPs on the PAC to launch an immediate investigation into the 1MDB accounts!
But are the UMNO, MCA and Gerakan MPs sitting on the PAC prepared to put national interests above everything else, in resolving on an immediate PAC investigation of the 1MDB accounts?