1MDB whistle-blower Xavier Andre Justo: I didn't steal, I was given PetroSaudi data

Xavier Andre Justo said his arrest was political in nature and a cover-up operation.
Xavier Andre Justo said his arrest was political in nature and a cover-up operation.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - For a long time, Xavier Andre Justo was painted as the man who stole files and e-mails from his former employer Petro­Saudi to be sold to others.

However, the 52-year-old, a key figure in the 1MDB scandal, has now made it clear that the evidence was given to him and not stolen.

The Swiss said: "The most important thing is that those files... they were not stolen, they were given to me. And I gave them without any kind of modification, alteration, adding or withdrawing.

"Those are the genuine files of the PetroSaudi server, which pretty much told the story of 1MDB and PetroSaudi."

The operation to arrest him in Thailand, he said, was planned so that he would be away from his wife, friends and lawyers.

Justo said after his arrest, the deal presented to him was simple: Confess and the sentence will be light, otherwise it will be 10 years in one of the worst places to be jailed.

He said: "I had no choice and said: 'Okay. Give me the paper and pen, and tell me what you want me to write.' And that's what I did. So, I said I downloaded the data. They made me say I stole the data. But I never stole it.

"That was part of the game to make me the bad guy and another journalist (Clare Rewcastle-Brown) the bad woman. All the rest, all the companies and management (of PetroSaudi) became good people.

"That was the deal: 'Do that and you'll be out in six months, or don't do that and you'll spend 10 years in jail (in Thailand)'."

Justo, who described himself as a finance man and not a technical person, said his confession was dictated to him.

He said: "My English is all right but if you read it (the confession), it was in perfect English. It was dictated to me by a UK citizen who is also a subject of our criminal complaint in Switzerland.

"I did what I had to do. I just wanted to be out, to rejoin my family, hug my wife and be with my son.

"It was a survival operation for me. I would have confessed to pretty much whatever they asked of me.

"Nobody knows what it is like to spend 18 months in a Thai jail unless they have been there. You will do whatever it takes to leave."

Justo said his arrest was political in nature and a cover-up operation.

He was sentenced to three years' jail in Thailand, which he believes was excessive for the "crime" he was charged with.

He said: "I didn't do the crime, this blackmail attempt and stealing of data. I didn't do it. But even if you do all that in Thailand, you can be out on bail. Those are called minor offences.

"But I received a three-year sentence. By coincidence, the day of my sentencing was in August 2015. If you add three years, it's August 2018. So, I have been told that maybe they wanted me in jail until after the elections."

Justo said he was visited by Malaysian government officials and that the then government under former prime minister Najib Razak wanted to have him extradited to Malaysia.

Support from the Swiss diplomats in Thailand saved him from that and he was eventually pardoned twice by the King of Thailand.

"The Swiss authorities have been incredible. I have their full support. They came to visit me at the end of almost every week giving me the news. They told me I would not end up in Malaysia," he said.