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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Justo revealed today that the Malaysian police had asked him to admit publicly that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was “the best prime minister” as part of his forced confession.
The whistleblower central to the unravelling of the 1MDB financial saga said the admission was part of several instructions imposed as a condition for his release, which he confessed to under the assumption that it would secure his release.
“The Malaysian delegation was of three Malaysian policemen and they told me to say I was a bad man, I liked money and Tarek and Petrosaudi were nice,” he told a conference on financial crime here.
“And also I had to say Najib was the best PM ever... Of course, I don’t know if he was,” he added.
Among the delegation of police personnel that met him was current Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director commissioner Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh, Justo claimed.
The meeting was reported in the Malaysian media as part of the police investigation into allegations that Justo had attempted to blackmail several people, including Najib.
But instead, it was meant to secure Justo’s confession. In the scripted confession prepared by the Malaysian police, the Swiss national said he was “guided” to answer 55 questions, all meant to incriminate himself.
“They had 55 questions, all I had to do was follow what I was told and that’s it,” Justo told reporters after addressing the conference.
The meeting between the police delegation took place when Justo, who was accused of attempted blackmail by trying to profit off stolen data from Petrosaudi, was jailed in Bangkok late 2015.
The Swiss national at the time had passed the information, more than 230,000 emails that contained crucial communication details between key players in the 1MDB heist, to whistleblower site Sarawak Report founder Claire Rewcastle-Brown and several other Malaysian figures.
He refrained from naming the remaining individuals when asked by a member of the audience at the conference.
The former Petrosaudi executive said his confession at that point was made under the assumption that the move would secure his deportation back to Switzerland, where he felt he had a better chance at a fair trial.
But just a few days after he met with the Malaysian police, the deportation was denied.
Justo said he suspected the Malaysian authorities played a significant role in the Thai government’s decision to keep him jailed in Bangkok.
“Because everything was ready and I was already told that the Swiss AG had wanted me deported and the Thais had agreed,” he said.
“But three days after the Malaysian police came, I found out that they denied my deportation.”
The former Petrosaudi executive, a banker with more than 15 years of experience in finance when he joined the Saudi company, was in the midst of raising a resort in South Thailand at the time of his arrest.
He told the conference he left Petrosaudi under acrimonious circumstances after he suspected irregularities, and also because he was unable to cope with the excessive lifestyle of his employer, chief executive officer Tarek Obaid.
“They (Tarek Obaid) were always partying, wild... I didn’t sign up for this. I was happy where I was with the resort and all,” he said.
Justo spent 18 months in jail in Thailand under grim conditions, which he recounted in detail at the conference. He has said he wants to share his entire experience in a book to be penned with his wife.
Petrosaudi and 1MDB entered into an abortive joint venture in 2012 for which the Malaysian firm still paid the former US$700 million (RM2.7 billion).
Justo’s documents, which he tried to sell for US$2 million to the Malaysian outfit, were believed to be linked to that deal.
He was granted a royal pardon in conjunction with late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 70 years on the throne and Queen Sirikit’s birthday in 2016, which cut his jail sentence to two years.
He was then granted a second amnesty by the King’s successor and current Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn upon the latter’s coronation. The prison sentence was then reduced to just a year.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.