Swiss national Xavier Justo given 3-year jail term for 1MDB-linked blackmail

Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo (seated) was sentenced to three years' jail, after he was arrested for allegedly blackmailing his former employer PetroSaudi International over the 1MDB case.
Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo (seated) was sentenced to three years' jail, after he was arrested for allegedly blackmailing his former employer PetroSaudi International over the 1MDB case.PHOTO: ROYAL THAI POLICE

BANGKOK - Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo was sentenced to three years in jail  by a Thai court on Monday (Aug 17) for blackmailing his  former employer PetroSaudi International, which is entangled in a huge scandal involving the Malaysian government. 

His sentence was halved after his confession, according to court officials. It is not clear whether Justo will appeal as his lawyer has refused to take questions until he has consulted his client.

The 49-year-old former IT executive blackmailed his former employer, an energy company that was involved in a failed venture with state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in 2009.  He then tried to sell data which he stole from the company to a group of people who he said intended to use it to topple Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Justo did not answer questions from reporters after his conviction on Monday when he was led away from the courthouse by officials around midday.

Local and foreign media had gathered at the courthouse as early as 7am to await the sentencing in a case that has garnered international attention because of its links to 1MDB.

In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times in July, Justo claimed that he was promised US$2 million (S$2.8 million) in exchange for the data taken from his former company. But he said he was never paid what he was promised by a prominent Malaysian businessman. 

He claimed a deal was reached in Singapore in February on the sale of the documents, which was followed by lengthy discussions on how he would be paid.  

The group of people he met in Singapore to negotiate the sale of the data were named in a 22-page confession Justo made to Thai police.

While under remand by Thai police, he signed the full confession detailing how he had met a group of Malaysian media owners and politicians who allegedly sought to use the stolen information to topple Mr Najib.

The Malaysian leader is facing allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal on July 3 that U$700 million in state funds was transferred to his personal bank accounts.