KUALA LUMPUR • The chairman of Malaysia's The Edge Media Group, Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, said he has gifted US$2 million (S$2.7 million) to Swiss whistle-blower Xavier Andre Justo for his help in exposing the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal, according to the business daily yesterday.
The Edge said in a report that Mr Justo, his wife Laura and four-year-old son Zander, yesterday visited the group's office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, where they met Mr Tong as well as group publisher and chief executive Ho Kay Tat.
"The gift to Justo is in appreciation of his contribution to Malaysia in helping to expose the kleptocracy of the past government," Mr Tong was quoted as saying by The Edge. "Without him, the wrongdoings involving 1MDB, as exposed by The Edge, would not have come to light."
Mr Justo's 90GB of data contained in a hard drive helped to blow the lid off the 1MDB case, as it had details from e-mails and documents on what went on behind the scenes.
Mr Justo, 52, was an IT head at the London office of PetroSaudi, which ran an energy joint venture with 1MDB from 2009 to 2012.
The United States Department of Justice had said US$4.5 billion was siphoned off by top Malaysian officials and their associates from 1MDB, which was set up in 2009.
Voter anger over the alleged corruption involving 1MDB and other graft cases played a major role in the toppling of the long-ruling Barisan Nasional government in the general election last May.
Former Malaysian prime minister and finance minister Najib Razak has since been slapped with 42 corruption and money-laundering charges, mostly tied to 1MDB, by the Pakatan Harapan government.
The whistle-blower is considered a hero by many Malaysians for helping to expose the 1MDB case.
Mr Justo, who was jailed for three years in Thailand, told The Edge: "I take comfort that I have not suffered in vain. Malaysians got to learn the truth and I eventually got my freedom back."
Mr Justo spoke to The Straits Times in 2015 from the Bangkok jail that he had been promised US$2 million by a group of people in exchange for data he stole from his former employer PetroSaudi.
The day after ST ran its report, The Edge's owner, Mr Tong, issued a statement in response, acknowledging that The Edge had misled Mr Justo, but said claims that they would tamper with the data were false. They had offered to pay him for the information related to the 1MDB saga, but never had any intention of actually paying him, Mr Tong said then.