KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged on Wednesday for tampering an audit report related to state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Najib was charged at a Kuala Lumpur court for using his position as prime minister to protect himself from ethical, civil or criminal actions against him in relation to 1MDB, by ordering the alteration of the final audit report before it is presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a committee of the Malaysia's parliament tasked with reviewing the country's public accounts.
Najib pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail.
Previously, he already faces 38 other charges related to 1MDB for corruption, criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving several billion ringgit.
Meanwhile, former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda was charged separately for abetting the offense, which was said to have taken place at the Prime Minister's Office in 2016.
Arul pleaded not guilty to the charge. He joined 1MDB in 2015 with the task to turn around the debt-laden state fund but was sacked in June following the change of government after the May 9 general elections.
The charges come after National Audit Department Auditor-General Madinah Mohamad claimed in November that an aide to Najib had instructed her office to remove a paragraph from an audit report, which contains information including the financial status of the company and its board of director meetings.
According to the official, two crucial deletions were made to the report at the request of a private secretary of Najib in 2016, including deleting a paragraph that mentioned Malaysia businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, who was reported to had played a central role in the 1MDB case.