Ambrin: OSA label on 1MDB report supposed to be temporary

Yiswaree Palansamy
Ambrin said that he is ready to assist in any investigation pertaining to 1MDB. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang has admitted it was his own decision to classify the audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972, owing to premature information leakage, of its interim report.

However, he said that the classification was only supposed to be temporary, until the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had completed its proceedings and deliberation on the findings of 1MDB's financial issues.

"No, no," he replied, when asked if he was pressured to place the auditor-general report under the said law.

"I think you just go back to the history, because before the final report was issued, there was an interim report. Even the interim report was presented to the PAC," he said, referring to the PAC.

"So, to not disturb the proceedings of the PAC, I decided to classify it under the OSA, but the intention was later, when the PAC had finished their deliberation, there is no reason for it to remain classified under OSA," he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Ambrin said that it was the PAC that decided his department's report is not for the public eye, and he had to respect the decision, as it was made by a parliamentary committee.

"Our original intention, we were thinking that the PAC would annexe our report to their report, you see, but they decided against it," Ambrin added.

He said that he had also consulted the “government security office” and was advised that the report was best placed under the OSA.

Ambrin said that he is also ready to assist in any investigation pertaining to 1MDB, adding that he has however yet to be summoned.

On May 12, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that he has instructed the police to lift the OSA seal on the 1MDB audit report.

In March 2016, the PAC disclosed that the government’s move to classify the final federal audit report on 1MDB under OSA was done to prevent information from being leaked.

Then-PAC chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin added that the Federal Audit Department sought to classify the final report after its previous preliminary report was leaked to the media after it was tabled before the panel last year.

Last week, current auditor-general Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad declassified the said 1MDB report.

The document was prepared by her predecessor Ambrin.

“Referring to the 1MDB audit report that was classified as secret on January 22, 2016 and tabled before the Public Accounts Committee on March 4, 2016, it is hereby stated that the document in question is now reclassified as an open document,” she said in a statement.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had ordered Ambrin to perform the audit during the early days of the 1MDB scandal.

Ambrin initially said his report would only be classified for the duration of the PAC’s inquiry into 1MDB, but the document was kept a secret even after the parliamentary watchdog tabled its own report in Dewan Rakyat.

PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, among others, had sued unsuccessfully to have the document declassified.