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More witnesses will delay 1MDB probe report, says PAC chief

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There will be no more witnesses called before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as it has enough information to table its report on 1MDB corporate governance to the Dewan Rakyat, and more testimonies are "not actually necessary" and will only "delay" matters.

"As I have previously announced, the PAC proceedings involving (former chairperson) Bakke Salleh and (ex-CEO) Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi on Feb 11 and 12 will be the last on the matter of the corporate governance of 1MDB," PAC chief Hasan Arifin said in a statement today.

"This is as proceedings involving 1MDB have gone on since May 2015 and according to my understanding and consideration, the information from the nine previous proceedings is sufficient for the PAC to come up with an objective, transparent and fair conclusion," he said.

Commenting on PAC member Tony Pua's call for ex-1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and and Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz to be called to testify before the committee on the matter, Hasan said that "it is not actually necessary".

This is because questions arising during the time Mohd Hazem was CEO had been answered by Lodin during the previous PAC proceeding on Jan 19 and 20.

"In my view, as company chairperson, part of his responsibility is to have a deep understanding of company operations. Thus all information and answers that the chairperson gave to the PAC is sufficient on the matter," he said.

As for the matter of the 1MDB probe by Bank Negara, Hasan said the issue has been explained by the company in the media, and the response by the atorney-general has been recorded by the press.

Delay deliberations

Though Hasan said that Pua ( photo ) can raise the matter in the next proceedings and if other members agree, the PAC can call more witnesses.

"It's up to the committee, but what is certain is that it will delay deliberations and derail my wish to see the PAC report on 1MDB's corporate governance in the next Parliament session," he opined.

At the same time, the PAC chief said the auditor-general will present the final audit report on 1MDB on Feb 24 and 25 and the PAC will require some time to digest the report. This is important as it will be the main reference to the committee in coming up with its conclusion for tabling in Parliament.

Hasan added that after the auditor-general tabled his final report to the PAC, his department can be asked to arrange to acquire any additional items and information which the committee may require.

He said the PAC will table its report on 1MDB to Parliament in the next Dewan Rakyat session, which will begin in March and end in April.

The PAC was roped to look into the debt-ridden sovereign fund after it was reported that is has accumulated massive debts and has been struggling to meet its commitments, with billions in assets, investments, cash and 'units' unaccounted for.

1MDB has consistently denied both wrongdoing and mismanagement, claiming that it was not in financial trouble but has embarked on a 'rationalisation' of its assets and liabilities nonetheless.

The fund, which featured Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as the chairperson of its advisory board, was enmeshed in scandal and has been at the centre of a joint investigation by police, Bank Negara, the PAC as well as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission domestically, and also being looked at by foreign regulators in overseas jurisdictions.

The PAC probe is the last remaining open investigation as the others has been set aside by newly appointed attorney-general Mohamad Apandi Ali who viewed the cases to be without a hint of culpability to warrant charging anyone.

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