PETALING JAYA, Sept 20 — The main character in the PetroSaudi International data theft — Xavier Andre Justo — is now languishing in a Thai jail but the issue just refuses to die down for those who had taken advantage of his theft.
The Swiss national had confessed his attempt to blackmail his former employer PetroSaudi before he was fired in 2011. The 90-gigabyte database contained all sorts of information, including emails.
It was the contents of these emails that critics of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had depended on to attack him and the government.
However, Justo had thrown the cat among the pigeons when he not only confessed to his blackmail attempts against PetroSaudi but also exposed how Sarawak Report and The Edge obtained the database.
He made a lengthy confession — some 14 pages long — detailing his dealings with Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, owner of The Edge Media Group. Justo had agreed to sell it to them for US$2 million (RM8.6 million) although his initial asking price was US$3 million.
He claimed British-based Indian businessman Kamal Siddiqi had connected him to Rewcastle-Brown, who had then introduced him to Tong through a Malaysian opposition politician. Justo even named the politician, who has in turn threatened to sue anyone who connects him to this transaction.
Tong, while admitting having obtained the database from Justo, said he never intended to pay the Swiss.
Justo claimed some of the information used in the attacks against Najib were not from his database. Justo gave three sets of confessions after he was arrested by the Thai police in June at his Koh Samui home.
In one of his confessions, he not only admitted his blackmail attempt but stressed he was not involved in any political conspiracy and he was only after the money, especially from PetroSaudi.
Is Justo now blaming Rewcastle-Brown and Tong for everything? Or is he trying to absolve himself from further criminal prosecution?
There have been claims Justo and several others had committed various crimes — from money laundering to trying to overthrow a democratically elected government.
Justo, by his own admission, was no more than a common criminal out to extort his former employer and when he failed with his blackmail, he took to selling his stolen goods to the highest bidder.
Yet, his information was touted to be from a “whistleblower” — someone who wants to blow the lid on something bad. Yet, Justo said he was a failed blackmailer who was doing it for money.
So, how reliable is his information? Did he alter the information to suit his monetary greed?
However, many seem to treat this information as 100 per cent accurate and genuine. Justo was jailed for attempted extortion and not for the theft of the data. Why was theft not included in the charge since Justo confessed to stealing the information and even detailing how he did it?
Brown had used the data she obtained from Justo in a two-series campaign — one against Najib and the other against ex-British prime minister Tony Blair, who was at one time PetroSaudi adviser. For the record, Rewcastle-Brown’s brother-in-law, Gordon Brown, had ousted Blair as Labour party chief to succeed him as prime minister.
Tong and his newspapers also used the information from Justo to attack Najib and his government. Again, the question is how accurate is the stolen data which The Edge claims to have extracted themselves?