I was paid to expose Sarawak Report: Malaysian journalist

KUALA LUMPUR • A former journalist admitted he was paid to expose the Sarawak Report website but insisted that the site did doctor documents to "criminalise" Prime Minister Najib Razak and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"Yes, some of the comments are true. I am not ashamed to say that I have received money from certain people," Mr Lester Melanyi was quoted as telling Malay Mail Online.

His admission yesterday came after the London-based website denied having employed him as an editor. "Let us confirm. Lester Melanyi has never ever written a word of Sarawak Report... ," it said on Wednesday night.

Sarawak Report has alleged that billions of ringgit linked to 1MDB had found their way into Datuk Seri Najib's personal bank accounts.

On Wednesday, Cabinet Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan revealed a video confession by Mr Melanyi detailing a conspiracy between the website and Malaysia's opposition lawmakers to publish forged documents on debt-laden 1MDB, whose chief adviser is the Prime Minister.

Datuk Rahman said a police report had also been filed, along with a copy of a March 1 e-mail by Sarawak Report's founder, Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, which read: "Thanks! Yes it was quite a job! Sitting up night after night cleverly 'forging' all those documents!!!"

But Ms Rewcastle-Brown told The Malaysian Insider it was a sarcastic response sent to Mr Melanyi after he contacted her two weeks ago about a forgery claim regarding former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Andre Justo, who is accused of blackmailing his former employer with documents regarding its 2009 tie-up with 1MDB.

Shannon Teoh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'I was paid to expose Sarawak Report: Malaysian journalist'. Print Edition | Subscribe