Media tycoon Tong Kooi Ong, in yet another salvo in an ongoing suit in the High Court of Singapore, has sought to strike out Swiss national Xavier Justo's reply to the former's defence papers. The move comes after Justo's lawyer in February dismissed Datuk Tong's defence as groundless.
A closed-door High Court pre-trial conference was held yesterday in the closely watched case. A pre-trial conference before an assistant registrar manages the run-up to the actual High Court hearing, monitoring timelines for documents to be submitted and ruling on interlocutory matters such as striking out actions.
Justo is the former employee of PetroSaudi who allegedly leaked details which led to claims that billions of ringgit were misappropriated at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), an investment arm of the Malaysian government.
He is suing Mr Tong, the owner of Malaysia's The Edge media group, and two others. He claims that he was never paid the US$2 million (S$2.7 million) promised for two storage drives containing data which he supposedly handed over in Mr Tong's presence at a Fullerton Hotel meeting in February last year.
Along with damages, he wants the items, said to contain data about global oil services firm PetroSaudi and its business partner 1MDB, to be returned and for any copies to be destroyed, according to amended court documents filed by his lawyer Suresh Damodara last November.
Mr Tong, defended by lawyer Doris Chia, argues that Justo is not entitled to the items.
Mr Tong's latest move to strike out a key document by Justo to his defence follows another preliminary bout last December. That was when he succeeded in persuading the court to order that Justo place a $50,000 deposit as security for costs before the case is allowed to proceed further.
Justo, 48, who worked for PetroSaudi International (UK) as an IT manager until April 2011, is serving a three-year jail term in Thailand for blackmail of his former employer.
The owner and editor of the Sarawak Report, Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, though named as a defendant in Justo's suit, told The Straits Times on Monday that she has not been served with court papers in relation to the suit.