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Malaysia in transition

Malaysia sacks state bank chief for covering up Jho Low's 1MDB role

Shukry Salleh allegedly took part in scrubbing state fund's 2014 audit report

Jho Low in 2015.    © AP

KUALA LUMPUR -- The Malaysian government on Monday ousted the chairman of a state-owned bank for his role in tampering with the auditor general's report on the scandal-tainted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Shukry Salleh's three-year contract with Bank Rakyat has been terminated effective immediately on the order of the minister of entrepreneur development, the bank's owner, following a weekend report that revealed the chairman's involvement in concealing financier Low Taek Jho's role in the 1MDB matter.

In a statement, the minister said decisions made by Shukry Salleh at Bank Rakyat will be "reviewed and canceled" if deemed detrimental to the bank.

Shukry, who became the bank's chairman last January, was former Prime Minister Najib Razak's chief private secretary. He was among the high-ranking officials who in February 2016 allegedly met to alter 1MDB's audit report for fiscal 2014 on the order of Najib, according to the auditor general.

Najib faced intense public scrutiny after news came that billions of dollars had gone missing from 1MDB. Amid the hubbub, Najib allegedly called for striking references to Low from the audit report.

Low is said to be the mastermind behind the alleged heist of $4.5 billion from 1MDB and is wanted by authorities in several countries, including the U.S. He remains at large.

Najib, currently awaiting trial on over 30 charges in connection to the embezzlement case, maintains his innocence. His lawyer on Sunday issued a statement saying it is "standard procedure" to tweak audit reports before publication.

The police on Monday said they have begun investigating the matter as a case of forgery with the intent to cheat.

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