KUALA LUMPUR: A witness in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit tampering trial involving Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today denied that she was awarded a ‘Datuk’ for testifying against the former prime minister.

National Audit Department’s director (Governance Sector) Datuk Nor Salwani Muhammad, 54, told the High Court here that she was conferred the Panglima Mahkota Wilayah award on Feb 1, 2020, after serving the Federal Territories Ministry for 30 years.

She said this when answering a question from lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah representing Najib, 67, in the trial before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

Nor Salwani made headlines in 2019 after she testified in the High Court that she hid a voice recorder in a pencil case to record a meeting which discussed amendments for the 1MDB audit report, held on Feb 24, 2016.

Earlier, the fifth prosecution witness was asked to read a local newspaper report dated Feb 1, 2020 entitled ‘Tahniah Nor Salwani’.

The report, among others, mentioned that in 2016, Nor Salwani secretly kept one of the 60 copies of 1MDB’s original report after being instructed to do so as only the amended copy would be submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In the report, the then Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad was also quoted as saying that the award was also a manifestation of his ministry which firmly rejects any element of corruption and abuse of power by any party.

When cross-examined by Muhammad Shafee, Nor Salwani stressed that the nomination for the Datuk title was submitted even before she testified in court.

Responding to Muhammad Shafee’s question on the ministers’ statement made in the newspaper report, Nor Salwani said she respected the minister’s views on the matter.

Nor Salwani said she never intended to ‘hide’ or do something that was unethical when using the recorder at the meeting.

Muhammad Shafee: Did you ask for permission or inform the then Chief Secretary to the Government (KSN) Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa and then Auditor General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang that you wanted to record the meeting? Have you made an application?

Nor Salwani: I tried to talk to Puan Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, the representative of the National Audit Department but she was busy talking to Tan Sri Ambrin. Hastily I slid the recorder into the pencil case. I never intended to ‘hide’ or do something unethical.

Earlier, Muhammad Shafee requested that the trial tomorrow and on Wednesday be postponed to give him time to prepare for the SRC International Sdn Bhd case appeal.

Judge Mohamed Zaini allowed the application and set the trial to continue on August 11.

Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report which was already ‘finalised’ by Auditor-General before the report was ‘finalised again’ and presented before the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him.

Former 1MDB chief executive officer, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, 44, was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB.