KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 ― Jailed Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo has claimed to have been offered US$2.7 million (RM7.62 million) for stolen confidential information from his former employer PetroSaudi International (PSI) by a “prominent” Malaysian businessman in a deal brokered by Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle Brown, but which he never received ― allegations which the Briton has panned as “bunkum”.
In an exclusive interview with Singapore daily Straits Times (ST) published today, Justo who has confessed to blackmail and extortion against PSI, was reported saying the deal was made in Singapore in February.
However, he claimed that he was never received the money promised by the Malaysian businessman whom ST said it was not naming pending a response from him.
Justo also recounted his attempts to open a Singapore bank account for the payment to be wired in directly but which failed for reasons unknown to him, and added that Rewcastle Brown took over negotiations from that point.
“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 was quoted saying from a prison cell in Bangkok.
Justo claimed the purported buyer had also offered to pay him in cash but said in order to receive it, he would have to travel to Singapore regularly to receive the money, each time in “few thousands or tens of thousands”.
But he rejected this offer, the Swiss national told ST.
Justo said it was finally agreed that Rewcastle-Brown would receive the money from the interested buyer and pay him a monthly sum of US$250,000 for consultancy services.
“I don't know if she received the money or not, (because) I was arrested. I have no idea,” he was quoted saying.
Justo also told the daily that his story is backed by emails between him and the prospective buyer as well as WhatsApp messages.
Asked to confirm Justo’s account, however, Rewcastle-Brown said the arrested former PSI director was “full of untruths” and that his story was mere “bunkum”.
“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 told ST.
Thai police arrested Justo on June 22 on charges of blackmailing PSI, an international company based in Saudi Arabia linked to the 1MDB financial scandal. Following the alleged sale of the documents, several emails and documents were published by the SR.
Four days ago, former Sarawak Tribune editor Lester Melanyi accused SR of using information obtained from Justo to forge documents implicating Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in 1MDB's scandal.
Lester also claimed to have met Justo “two, three times” in London between 2012 and 2013, and was convinced that the latter was not capable of blackmailing his former employer.
According to a video posted on the “Friends of BN” Facebook page, Lester said all Justo did was share some information on PSI for free with Rewcastle-Brown during those meetings, which he accused SR of using to spin into “juicy” stories.
Lester, who claims to have been an SR representative in Sarawak at one time, further alleged that a London-based web designer by the name of James Steward Stephen was responsible for the alleged document forgeries under Rewcastle-Brown’s guidance.
However, Malay Mail Online later uncovered that the “James Steward Stephen” named by Lester, was only a railway services manager in Ipswich, UK.
Lester later admitted that a wrong photo of Stephen was used in his video.
1MDB is currently under investigation by a special taskforce which includes the police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
This following a damning report by business daily Wall Street Journal which in its July 2 article, reported Malaysian investigators had traced nearly US$700 million of deposits into what is believed to be Najib’s personal bank accounts.