Thai police end probe into former PetroSaudi staff Xavier Justo, hand case to state prosecutors

Justo (left) is alleged to have blackmailed his former employer PetroSaudi, which was involved in a failed venture with Malaysia's 1MDB in 2009.
Justo (left) is alleged to have blackmailed his former employer PetroSaudi, which was involved in a failed venture with Malaysia's 1MDB in 2009. PHOTO: EPA

The Thai police have completed investigations into Xavier Justo, the Swiss national linked to an unravelling Malaysian government scandal, and submitted his case to the state prosecutors on Thursday (Aug 6) morning.

The police allege that he tried to blackmail his former employer PetroSaudi International, an energy company that was involved in a failed venture with Malaysian government owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in 2009.

He has signed a confession in hope of a reduced sentence.

The crime carries a jail sentence of one year to 10 years and fine of 2,000 baht to 20,000 baht (S$78.80 to S$788).

It is now up state prosecutors to indict Justo, police colonel Kornchai Klayklueng, deputy commander of Thailand's Crime Suppression Division, told The Straits Times on Thursday.

Justo has been remanded in a Thai prison since he was arrested at his home in Koh Samui island in June.

In 2013, the former PetroSaudi executive allegedly demanded 2.5 million Swiss francs (S$3.5 million) from his former employer, but was rejected.

PetroSaudi made a complaint to Thai police in May this year, after documents showing 1MDB's financial mismanagement was published by news website Sarawak Report.

In an interview with The Straits Times last month while under custody, Justo revealed that he was promised US$2 million (S$2.8 million) by Malaysian businessman Tong Kooi Ong for the documents.

But he had not received anything up to his point of arrest.

In a response to Justo's revelations, Mr Tong, the owner of The Edge Media Group, admitted he misled Justo into believing that he would be paid for the data.

"That was the only way to get hold of the evidence to expose how a small group of Malaysians and foreigners cheated the people of Malaysia of US$1.83 billion," he said in a joint statement with the media group's publisher Ho Kay Tat.

Although the Malaysian police have reportedly tried to gain access to Justo, Police Colonel Kornchai said he has not been interrogated by officers from another country. No country has also sought to extradite him so far, he added.