KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 ― Media tycoon Datuk Tong Kooi Ong and Ho Kay Tat, the editor of The Edge Media Group, publicly confessed today to cheating Xavier Andre Justo over a promised US$2 million (RM7.6 million) payment in return for documents the Swiss man stole from his former employer PetroSaudi International (PSI).
The duo’s admission was published on The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal, which is also under The Edge Media Group.
“Justo is obviously an angry man, and understandably so, as we did not pay him what he wanted.
“Yes, we misled him. But that was the only way to get hold of the evidence to expose how a small group of Malaysians and foreigners cheated the people of Malaysia of US$1.83 billion.
“His statement confirmed what we have said earlier i.e. we never paid anyone,” they said in the article that carried both their bylines.
The two men dropped the bombshell after Singapore daily Straits Times (ST) reported earlier today their exclusive interview with Justo in a Bangkok jail where he is currently awaiting to be charged with blackmail and extortion against PSI for the confidential data.
The ST report said Justo had revealed he had been offered close to US$2 million by a “prominent” Malaysian businessman and his colleague, but the Singapore daily said it was refraining from naming them pending their response.
However, it would appear from the TMI article that both Tong and Ho have conceded they are the men in the deal with Justo even as they disparaged his claim they had disclosed their intention to tamper with the documents ― believed to be linked to PSI’s aborted agreement with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) ― as a campaign to topple the Malaysian government.
Both Tong and Ho insinuated that Justo had dressed up that claim as retribution after failing to receive payment for the stolen data, which he had already given them.
“As for Justo's allegations that we told him we intended to tamper with the documents and that our objective was to bring down the government, surely if we had such intentions we would not tell it to someone we were meeting for the first time.
“All the more so when we know he will be upset with us because we will eventually not pay him what he wants,” they said in the joint article.
The documents however are currently under investigation by a multi-agency government task force launched after US daily Wall Street Journal reported cash transfers from 1MDB in 2013 that ended up in bank accounts believed to belong to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak just before the tumultuous general elections that same year.
But both Malaysian men have insisted there was “no tampering” of the documents they obtained, saying “we immediately did a digital fingerprint of the hard disc that contained over 400,000 emails and documents and secured it”.
They also said they have handed over the “exact copy” of data as given by Justo to Bank Negara Malaysia, the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, adding that the Swiss man has also denied tampering with the information.
Both Tong and Ho believe they are innocent of any crime, even as they admitted to cheating Justo of payment.
“We have done nothing wrong and we are here to assist investigators unlike some who seem to have disappeared.
“But this is not about Justo, neither is it about us. It is about a scheme to cheat the people of Malaysia of US$1.83 billion through the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture,” they said.