The Arrest Of A Former PetroSaudi Executive Gives 1MDB Controversy A Whole New Turn

49-year-old Xavier Justo, a Swiss national and former employee of PetroSaudi International, was arrested at a house in Koh Samui, Thailand, on Monday with computers, hard drives and other data storage devices.

Cover image via Astro AWANI
19 Aug — 02:22 PM

Attorney-General's Chambers receives positive nod on getting more evidence from Justo

Image via NST

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has received a positive response from its counterpart in Thailand to obtain further evidence on Xavier Andre Justo, a Swiss national, in light of his conviction on Monday.

In a statement, the AGC said the department was in the process of obtaining further evidence under the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters among Asean member countries.

Justo was sentenced to three years’ jail for trying to blackmail his former employer Pe­­troSaudi Inter­na­tional. The oil services and production company is linked to troubled sovereign fund 1Ma­­lay­­sia Development Bhd.

The 49-year-old former IT executive was charged under Section 338 of the Thai Penal Code which carries a jail term of one to 10 years and a fine of between 2,000 baht (RM222) and 20,000 baht (RM2,223).

In the statement, the AGC said the department had also assured the public that all investigation papers submitted by the Royal Malaysian Police for its attention would be studied thoroughly and given serious attention due to such allegations as these offences would affect the country’s stability.

The A-G’s Chambers added that the police reports were made against persons in and outside the country.

The arrest warrant issued on Aug 5 against Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who founded and runs the Sarawak Report, was in relation to the on­­going investigation by police into an allegation that the website published a false report concerning a draft charge sheet, the A-G’s Chambers said.

The A-G’s Chambers said it was very serious about the matter because the stability of the country was at risk.
24 Jul — 04:32 PM

Ms Rewcastle-Brown rubbished Justo's allegations as "bunkum"

Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown

Image via EjinSight

"What I have presented on 1MDB and has been clarified by The Edge and corroborated by several other official sources is a coherent explanation of events, versus the dodging, changing stories of 1MDB," she said.

Refuting vehemently these allegations, Ms Rewcastle-Brown said Justo was "full of untruths."

She said: "Why would I wish to alter anything? If I had, why haven't 1MDB and PetroSaudi brought out the evidence of such altering in all of the last five or so months?"
24 Jul — 03:05 PM

Justo was promised RM2 million in exchange for PSI

Image via Straits Times

A prominent Malaysian businessman promised USD2 million to Xavier Andre Justo in exchange for stolen documents from PetroSaudi International (PSI), the former employee of the firm said, claiming further that he however did not receive any of the payment because he got arrested.

“I tried to open an account in Singapore, to have the money paid directly from (the buyer’s) account. DBS Bank refused, I don’t know why. After that I opened an account in Abu Dhabi in my own personal name which was refused by (the buyer) because it had my name on it.”

He said he tried other means of opening an account and explained, ”Then I tried to use my company account in Hong Kong and he said the same, after that it was through a Luxembourg company and then again (the buyer) refused and after that Clare Brown took the lead,” he said.

"So I was supposed to go to Singapore every week or every other week to receive an envelope with a few thousand or tens of thousands, and repeat this process for months until the final amount will have been paid. And again I refused." he added.

Justo echoed what Thai police said last week, that his confession was backed up by documents including a record of his WhatsApp conversations with the buyers.

"All of what is written in my confession, most of it is proven by e-mail conversations, WhatsApp messages I have had with (them)."
24 Jul — 03:09 PM

16 Jul: IGP dismisses media report and affirms request to interview Justo

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar

Image via The Malaysian Insider

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday dismissed a media report saying that Malaysia had yet to make a request to interview former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Andre Justo, currently being detained in Thailand.

Yes, we have asked to interview Justo, said Khalid in response to a Bernama report on July 9 quoting the Royal Thai Police spokesman Police Lt-Gen Prawuth Thavornsiri as saying he was not aware of any official request from the Malaysian police.

According to The Star Online, Khalid questioned the source of information used in the report, saying that the media was not privy to the discussions held between police and their Thai counterparts.

“Who did they ask? The Thai police? Maybe they asked the Thai media and they definitely won’t know.

“This is between PDRM and the Royal Thai Police. Yes, of course, we asked to meet Justo,” he told reporters, as was quoted by the English news portal.
16 Jul — 01:26 PM

30 Jun: Ahmad Husni: No changes to 1MDB board members

Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah

Image via 1MDB

There is no proposal to change the board members of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) appointed earlier, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah. Ahmad Husni said the arrest of former PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) executive, Xavier Justo, in Thailand recently has much impact to the 1MDB issue.

“Before this, 1MDB was seen as a ‘fragile’ company, involved in scandals and faced various ‘online’ accusations."

“With the arrest of Justo, and based on what he said, it is clear that the various issues concerning 1MDB did not arise and that it is on the right track,” he said when winding-up debate on the 11th Malaysia Plan at the Dewan Negara here Monday.
30 Jun — 12:10 PM

PGI can't confirm if they made certain statements regarding Xavier Justo's arrest

Image via PGI

This weekend Sarawak Report’s London lawyers sent an urgent letter via email to Protection Group International (PGI) the “cyber intelligence” firm hired by the company PetroSaudi International (PSI) and quoted in the New Straits Times.

They asked for confirmation on the remarks attributed to them in two articles- The nabbing of PetroSaudi ex-staff and Who is Xavier Justo- by the New Straits Times last week, in their ‘exclusive’ reporting on the arrest of Xavier Justo in Thailand.

PGI has responded by saying they cannot say whether or not they made certain statements to the New Straits Times without getting permission from their clients – read PetroSaudi International – who, according to the website, are themselves under several investigations regarding the disappearance of millions of ringgit from 1MDB.

The brief response from “Becky” at PGI reads: “Thank you for your enquiry, please be advised we take client confidentiality very seriously and do not reveal any details about the work we do for any client, without their agreement”.
30 Jun — 12:02 PM

The email from the lawyers asked for confirmation on three issues:

Firstly, whether the quote highlighted in red was a wholly accurate and unedited quotation given by a member of its staff; if it is not, they were asked to confirm the precise respects in which the quote was inaccurate and/or has been edited and provide full details of any omitted text.

Secondly, the identity of the “expert from PGI” who gave the quote referred to if such a quote was given.

Thirdly, whether the firm considers the wording set out in blue to be a wholly accurate summary of its investigations; if it is not, they were asked to confirm the precise respects in which it was inaccurate.
30 Jun — 12:12 PM

On 29th June Dr M questions 1MDB money whereabouts

Image via Rakyat Times

Xavier Andre Justo's arrest for alleged blackmail does not change the fact that 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) entered into a lopsided deal and overpaid for its energy assets, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote today, asking again where the money had gone.

In a posting on his blog today, Mahathir said Najib had told Parliament that 1MDB had loaned USD1.9 billion to PetroSaudi's subsidiary to reduce the risk on its equity holding.

"Giving a loan to a JV partner who was found unsuitable as a JV partner would increase the risk, not reduce it. When the JV was dissolved after only 6 months of its formation, it must be because 1MDB realised that the venture was bad."

"What it should do is to demand the equity and the loan amounting to US1.9 billion be returned. Instead it was converted into a loan (murabahah)," he added.

"Having given this US1.9 billion loan, where is the money now?" asked Mahathir.
30 Jun — 11:41 AM

So what does Xavier Justo have to do with blackmailing PetroSaudi?

Recently, the arrest of former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Andre Justo by Thai authorities had led to Putrajaya claiming that criticisms against 1MDB stemmed from "tampered" documents supplied by the rogue former employee.

The Thai police have made no mention of "tampered" documents and are investigating Justo for blackmailing PetroSaudi. Regardless of whether Justo had peddled tampered PetroSaudi's documents, Mahathir stressed that the fact that 1MDB loaned USD1.9 billion to its former JV partner remains.

"And after that the investment and the loan of USD700 million was converted to a loan to a partner you (1MDB) no longer believe could deliver through the JV. You had some direct control over a JV, but not over the borrower," Mahathir said.

"So what has all this to do with Justo blackmailing Petro Saudi: Nothing."
16 Jul — 01:26 PM

25 Jun: PetroSaudi's leaked emails were tampered with claims 1MDB

The leaked emails connected to the arrest of a former PetroSaudi employee were tampered with, claims 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), but the Government investment arm says it remains confident of a thorough investigation.

"1MDB notes press reports today on the arrest of a former PetroSaudi staff for attempted blackmail and extortion in relation to proprietary email information belonging to PetroSaudi. We further note that initial probes show that some leaked emails were tampered with," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“1MDB is confident that the lawful authorities will thoroughly investigate, establish the facts and take appropriate action under the law.

“As stated previously, 1MDB pledges its full co-operation with the lawful authorities in their ongoing investigations on this matter,” the statement said.
24 Jun — 06:12 PM

On Monday, 22 June, the Royal Thai Police arrested Xavier Justo, a former PetroSaudi International employee, for allegedly leaking information related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

According to The Star, Justo, said to be a former IT executive at the company, was arrested at his home in Thailand and was charged with attempted blackmail and extortion against his former employer.

Former PetroSaudi International employee Xavier Justo after being detained on Monday.

Image via The Royal Thai Police

The Royal Thai Police's crime suppression division had reportedly seized numerous computers, hard drives, and other evidence from Justo's residence after obtaining a court ordered search warrant, The Star reported. PetroSaudi said it was mulling further legal action in other jurisdictions against Justo's actions.

PetroSaudi had become embroiled in the 1MDB controversy after a joint-venture deal between the two companies was said to have been orchestrated by business tycoon Low Taek Jho, the English daily further added.

A spokesperson for PetroSaudi International said "we are relieved that Mr Justo will now face justice through the courts. We have been the victims of a regrettable crime that has unfortunately been politicised in Malaysia."

"We are happy to finally set the record straight and we apologise to the Malaysian people for the harm that one of our unscrupulous ex-employees has caused to them."
24 Jun — 04:45 PM

Meanwhile, Justo's arrest in Bangkok has prompted whistle blower site Sarawak Report to speculate that Thai authorities may have been compromised and are being used to avenge PetroSaudi against those who allegedly leaked information about a 1MDB deal

In this open letter, published on 23 June, to the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern, the website Sarawak Report expressed its concern for the welfare of Swiss National Xavier Justo, who has been arrested in Thailand on the basis of allegations made by PetroSaudi International (PSI), a Swiss and UK-based company.

"I strongly believe that this Swiss national is being made subject to revenge and harassment regarding a matter over which the Thai courts have no valid jurisdiction," said Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report.

"I am concerned that corruption and or the misleading of the Thai authorities are behind this malicious arrest.

I am therefore also concerned that this company is using undue and illegal influence to try to obtain these materials through a seizure by the Thai Police," she said.

24 Jun — 05:01 PM

However, according to a Bangkok Post report, which cited the acting commander of the Royal Thai Police's Crime Suppression Division Pol Col Akaradech Pimonsri, PetroSaudi had paid RM15.5 million to Xavier Justo to leave the company after he was found to have "behaved against the company's rules and regulations"

Image via NST

According to the police official, the Swiss national later demanded 90 million baht (RM9.97 million) from PetroSaudi in exchange for not revealing confidential knowledge to business rivals.

Justo had allegedly threatened to release confidential business information, purportedly stolen from the company, if his demands were not met.

Justo, a former IT executive at the company, was arrested at a house at Koh Samui on Monday, allegedly for leaking information information to the London-based Sarawak Report website for several reports about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

He has denied these allegations.
24 Jun — 05:10 PM

Meanwhile, it's being now claimed by Protection Group International (PGI), an international cyber security firm, that the leaked documents on 1MDB's 2009 business deal with PetroSaudi were edited before they appeared on the Sarawak Report, The Malaysian Insider reported via the New Straits Times

Image via Astro AWANI

According to a report in pro-government English daily, the New Straits Times (NST), the firm Protection Group International (PGI) said the data was stolen from PetroSaudi and subsequently edited before it was published on the Internet.

"Our investigation is still ongoing, but it is clear that we are looking at a case of large-scale data theft, and our analysis substantiates that (Xavier Andre) Justo is the source of the data published on Sarawak Report," an expert from PGI was quoted as saying.

“For example, when we looked into a PowerPoint file that was on one of the Sarawak Report’s blog, we found evidence in the metadata of that file that it had been handled by a certain “xavierj” in 2013; two years after Justo left PetroSaudi, and four years after the file had originally been created by a law firm that advised PetroSaudi.

“It is also clear that the stolen data sets are incomplete, and underwent an editing process after they were removed from PetroSaudi’s systems, and before they were published on the Internet.

"There are many inconsistencies between the published data and the data which still exists on files within PetroSaudi relating to that period of time. Simply put, it is incomplete data, creatively selected and edited to fit a desired narrative," the NST quoted the PGI source as saying. PGI was hired to investigate the source of the data published on the Internet and verify its authenticity, NST reported.
24 Jun — 05:12 PM

The expert from PGI said the leaks found on Sarawak Report were an "all too familiar case" of published data going through selective editing or forgery to "create the most damaging story possible"

He said it was often a case of a greedy or malicious employee removing confidential data and publishing or threatening to publish it for personal gain.

"In this case, what started out as a simple story of personal gain by a former employee, became a story of politically-motivated allegations through the use of irresponsible online blogs.

"All of the investigations we have conducted thus far would lead me to say that, from both a forensic and expert perspective, the information [relating to this issue] published on the Internet should be considered unsafe and unreliable by those wishing to draw conclusions from it,” he was quoted as saying.
24 Jun — 05:25 PM

Two days after Justo's arrest, Parti Cinta Malaysia's vice-president Huan Cheng Guan has given a press statement today, 24 June, saying that Justo's arrest is a proof that has vindicated the Prime Minister Najib from allegations of 1MDB wrongdoings

Image via

“Thai police who arrested him (Justo) charged him with attempting to blackmail and extort the company, said it was part of a plot to discredit Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“All detractors who made their baseless and vile accusations on the PM and 1MDB must now retract their statements and apologise for not verifying the information they sourced from Sarawak Report,” said Guan in a press statement today.

He went on to criticise former Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s attacks on 1MDB, calling for the country’s longest serving Prime Minister and other critiques to publicly apologise for “shaming” the country.

“The point is Sarawak Report and all other writers who slammed the Prime Minister and 1MDB officials never bothered to check the authenticity of the documents, preferring to discredit our authorities even though they had all the contact details of those involved.

“As for other public figures, that has discredited our Prime Minister and 1MDB locally and internationally, a public apology on an international scale is mandatory to restore our country’s reputation,” he added, questioning if Tun Mahathir is now willing to “eat his words.”

24 Jun — 05:25 PM

This is developing story. Come back for more.

25 Jun — 12:49 PM


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