Thai court jails Swiss for oil firm black­mail bid

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

A Swiss man was jailed for three years in Thai­land on Mon­day for at­tempt­ing to black­mail a Saudi oil com­pany over deal­ings with a scan­dal-mired Malaysian state firm, a court of­fi­cial said.

Xavier An­dre Justo, 49, a for­mer em­ployee of lit­tle-known energy firm PetroSaudi In­ter­na­tional, pleaded guilty, ac­cord­ing to the court of­fi­cial and a Thai po­lice of­fi­cer in­volved in the case.

“Ini­tially he was sen­tenced to six years but it was re­duced to three as he pleaded guilty,” the of­fi­cial at the Bangkok crim­i­nal court that heard the case told AFP, re­quest­ing anonymity.

Justo claimed he had har­vested sen­si­tive com­pany data be­fore leav­ing PetroSaudi in 2011 and made sev­eral de­mands for around US$2.5 mil­lion to re­turn it, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice.

“He met a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­pany in a Bangkok ho­tel and made the de­mand, which the com­pany re­ported to us,” the po­lice­man told AFP, re­quest­ing anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to talk to the media.

“We don’t know what kind of in­for­ma­tion he had, or ally had it.”

Justo has been held on re­mand since his ar­rest on the Thai is­land of Koh Sa­mui in June.

PetroSaudi is an oil and gas com­pany with of­fices in the United King­dom, Saudi Ara­bia

if he re- and Switzer­land.

1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Ber­had ( 1MDB), an in­vest­ment com­pany launched in 2009 by Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak, has said it was in­volved in com­plex fi­nan­cial deals with PetroSaudi that year.

1MDB is owned by Malaysia’s fi­nance min­istry, and Na­jib still chairs the com­pany’s ad­vi­sory board.

A string of Malaysian and over­seas in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports this year have al­leged that hun­dreds of mil­lions of U. S. dol­lars in 1MDB money went miss­ing from the PetroSaudi deals.

1MDB has re­peat­edly re­jected these ac­cu­sa­tions. Na­jib has also re­peat­edly de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

PetroSaudi has sim­i­larly nied any wrong­do­ing.

A Wall Street Jour­nal in­ves­tiga­tive re­port last month fur­ther re­vealed that nearly US$ 700 mil­lion had been de­posited into Na­jib’s per­sonal ac­counts.

Both Na­jib and 1MDB strongly deny the nearly US$700 mil­lion came from the state in­vest­ment firm.

Malaysia’s anti- cor­rup­tion agency and mem­bers of his Cab­i­net says the trans­fers were from uniden­ti­fied donors from the Mid­dle East.

Crit­ics in Malaysia’s op­po­si­tion and the rul­ing party have pressed both 1MDB and Na­jib for full dis­clo­sure.

de-

AP

Swiss Xavier Justo, cen­ter, es­corted by Thai Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers, leaves the Bangkok South Crim­i­nal Court af­ter his trial in Bangkok, Thai­land, Mon­day, Aug. 17.

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