PUTRAJAYA, June 24 — Putrajaya will go after The Edge for publishing what it deems to be unverified news on 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) aborted joint venture with Petrosaudi International, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.
Zahid said the authorities will investigate the business paper following the arrest of a former PetroSaudi executive believed to be the source of the leaked documents on an abortive US$1.2 billion (RM4.5 billion) 1MDB-PetroSaudi venture from which hundreds of millions were allegedly siphoned out.
The home minister said after receiving a report on the arrest from their Thai counterparts that included forensic analysis of the leaked data, the Malaysian authorities concluded that the documents had been tampered with in a bid to tarnish the joint venture.
“We found from the forensic aspect that the leaked data downloaded by the former executive with malicious intent... to distort facts about the transaction between 1MDB and PetroSaudi and the leaked data was published in Sarawak Report and The Edge.
“And since we are responsible to monitor any publication that gets its licences from [the Home Ministry] so we feel that they will have to bear full responsibility to face any action if they were found to have cherry-picked or were selective or intentionally distorting facts with bad intentions,” Zahid told a press conference here.
Zahid also urged the Malaysian Communication Multimedia Commission to investigate and act against Sarawak Report, the whistleblower website that published the alleged leaked email correspondence between 1MDB and PetroSaudi.
Xavier Justo, a Swiss national, was arrested by the Thai police on Monday.
A report by the New Straits Times yesterday said that Justo had allegedly attempted to blackmail and extort 2.5 million Swiss francs (about RM10 million) from PetroSaudi over the release of these purportedly incriminating document.
The state-owned English daily also reported that the documents were found to have been doctored.
Many of these leaked documents were published on Sarawak Report, but an anonymous blog on June 7 reproduced documents that supposedly show 1MDB’s US$1.2 billion deal with Petrosaudi was a legitimate arrangement.
Today, Zahid also said Putrajaya will also allow for the extradition of Malaysians found to have used the doctored data should the Thai authorities require this.
“If they are requesting for extradition then we will co-operate in order to help the Thai authorities complete its investigation”.
The home minister also revealed that the police here have started their own investigations on the matter.
In a Bangkok Post report today, Thai police officials were quoted claiming that PetroSaudi paid the equivalent of RM15.5 million to Justo to leave the company after he was found to have “behaved against the company’s rule and regulations”.
Following his arrest, PetroSaudi issued a statement yesterday expressing relief and calling themselves victims of a crime that has been politicised in Malaysia.