Shortly after Xavier Justo was arrested in Thailand, Sarawak Report spent time with his devastated and terrified wife and family in Switzerland.
They had reached out because couldn’t believe what had happened to him and they didn’t know what to do.
We were sure about what was needed. Justo’s side of the story had to be brought out; the Swiss media ought to be informed and a campaign started to raise awareness and get proper action by the Swiss authorities to protect their national against a malicious action brought by his former colleagues, who were seeking to criminalise him abroad for exposing their own crimes in Switzerland and the UK.
We swung into action and got much of the Swiss media ready to interview the family about the dreadful situation. Sarawak Report wrote an article about the positive side of Justo to counter the hatchet job produced by the UMNO media vehicle, the New Straits Times.
Then Justo’s wife received positive and exciting news. She learnt that two British men had visited her husband in jail, who explained they were Scotland Yard detectives and they would attempt to help him, as long as he was prepared to turn ‘Queen’s evidence’ and provide them with all the documents and information that he had.
The family were almost crying with relief on that third day after the arrest.
Xavier’s wife is half Scottish herself and she felt as though at last the forces of law and order were reaching out from Europe to look after her husband and to make sure that justice would be brought against PetroSaudi, with Justo as a protected witness.
Sarawak Report was also extremely heartened, as it appeared that the notoriously under-resourced white collar crime divisions of Britain’s police forces might at last be starting to do their job and investigate PetroSaudi’s billion dollar fraud activities, which had all been masterminded bang in the centre of the City of London, using London lawyers and top businessmen.
After all, PetroSaudi had even hired former Prime Minister Tony Blair for a huge fee as part of their attempt to cover up their own dodgy acquisition of hundreds of millions of dollars in 2009, morphing from obscurity to become a substantial oil company overnight. It was a massive scandal waiting to be unmasked.
However, there were strange aspects to this happy news from the very start, even as we caught only snatches of the situation in Switzerland.
Why, for example, were these Scotland Yard detectives telling Justo that because their local influence was limited in the matter it was their advice that he should plead guilty to some “small things”, in order that they could help him get off with a ‘slap on the wrist’ and an admission he was to blame?
Justo’s wife was naturally worried that he should admit guilt for what did not seem a crime. She acknowledged that three years previously he had written an angry email to PetroSaudi former fellow directors saying that he would expose them if they reneged on their promised severance payment.
However, PSI’s Patrick Mahony had alleged to the Bangkok police that there had been recent meetings and threats of blackmail, which she said were totally untrue. She assumed there would be no question of admitting more than the email.
However, in those early days it was hard to know what was happening. There was not yet any Swiss lawyer, but some lawyer from Thailand apparently. The Swiss consulate were refusing to talk to anyone from the press, so no one really knew what was being decided.
Xavier’s wife next morning indicated to Sarawak Report that Justo was relieved he had been taken under the wing of the ‘detectives from the UK’ and that he would take their advice and plead guilty to this ‘little thing’.
In return they would take his evidence and he would soon be out of jail with the case being properly investigated by the authorities.
Later that day Sarawak Report returned to London – and on arrival received a text from Justo’s wife to say she was very apologetic, but could no longer speak to any journalists at all any more and could no longer be in contact.
She then went completely silent.
There was no other conclusion to be reached, except that the people around Justo had advised him he and his family must on no account speak any more to Sarawak Report or foreign media.
This was despite the fact that the positive story in Sarawak Report the day before had transformed the understanding and attitudes of very many people much more positively towards Justo, after the appalling character assassination that had been staged by the New Straits Times.
For many weeks therefore Justo was kept in almost total silence. The media campaign in Switzerland was still born without comment from his wife and family. It hugely disempowered his position as the charges were pressend and the trial date approached.
A very few belated messages from his clearly embarrassed wife indicated that they were nevertheless waiting on a hopeful outcome of the trial, which should solve the situation they believed.
Instead of that slap on the wrist, Justo was given three years on the basis of a full-blown blackmail charge. He expressed complete surprise to reporters at the trial and his family texted me to say they were astonished and devastated.
Following this turn of events, over the past couple of weeks carefully orchestrated media access has at last been allowed to Justo, in which he as adopted a tell-all approach, admitting to major guilt and saying that he is very sorry, but that Sarawak Report and other journalists were mainly to blame for all the bad information that came out about 1MDB, PetroSaudi and Malaysia.
Specifically, Justo has now made media statements that he had no idea about the actual content of the material he had sought to blackmail PetroSaudi with for $2 million dollars and that he accepts the idea that Sarawak Report might very well have been involved in ‘tampering’ and ‘doctoring’ the evidence.
He has parroted the UMNO line that this foreign news blog is hell bent on “illegally toppling” Najib for reasons unknown.
Despite these unbelievable claims and allegations Justo has at least retained the decency to acknowledge to journalists that Sarawak Report always refused any offer of financial benefit from him when he offered a “cut’ for his story.
This must have been disappointing for the New Straits Times, who have been spinning these allegations in order to construct their story about a massive cross party international plot to get rid of an innocent Prime Minister of Malaysia.
It is plain as daylight that this latest narrative from Justo is how he is being advised to currently plead, in order to reduce his sentence on an upcoming appeal. He now has highly expensive Swiss lawyers as well as local Thai lawyers.
If he is paying for these Swiss lawyers then his limited remaining family funds are likely to soon be exhausted.
It is for this reason that Sarawak Report believes it is legitimate to ask if some other interested party is now handling and paying for his legal case and orchestrating this strategy of blame towards the investigative journalists who broke his story about fraud by 1MDB and PetroSaudi?
After all, we have already investigated and demonstrated how the fall guys for the Altantuya murder case, Najib’s two bodyguards, are being managed in jail by a team of UMNO lawyers, who appear to have large and unexplained sums of money at their disposal.
In the same way that we questioned whether Sirul’s lawyers’ real client was actually Sirul, we now question whether Justo’s own team of advisors are entirely working for his interests, as opposed to the interests of those who got him arrested in the first place and then used that arrest to try and discredit the mass of evidence that has been brought to show fraud at 1MDB?
So, what of that early story of the visit by those ‘Scotland Yard detectives’, who were going to make things right and bring a proper investigation into the Justo documents on the 1MDB PetroSaudi deal?
Sarawak Report has asked the Metropolitan police about this claim that they had very unusually flown out detectives to Thailand to interview Justo – their reply was they have done no such thing.
It means that the British people who visited Justo behind bars were bogus, posing as Scotland Yard detectives in order to trick him.
What is significant in this context is the series of Justo’s original confessions that have now been obtained by journalists and passed on to Sarawak Report.
Dated between 26th June and 9th July and made in the Bangkok Remand Prison they each astonishingly begin with a statement that Justo does not want a lawyer to be present to protect his interests. How could the Swiss consultate have possibly allowed such a situation to develop with their national stuck in a Bangkok prison?
“I make this confession of my own free will and accord. I do not wish to have a legal advisor present. I am not under any pressure, duress or outside influence in any way whatsoever. …” [the start of all statements by Justo June-July 2015]
These statements (which are clearly worded and written not directly by him but on his behalf) go on to state abject guilt for crimes that back home were being denied by his wife.
“I do not wish to have a lawyer present. I fully admit my criminal behaviour and accept my guilt in these matters. I just want to set the record straight and apologise to those who I have wronged. I have conspired with others and further admit offenses of theft of data, handling stolen goods, selling stolen data and IT equipment to third parties and attempting to launder the proceeds of sale. My only motivation for selling the data that I stole was for monetary gain and I never considered myself a whistle-blower”
says Justo. He then goes on to tell a completely different story to the one he had earlier told Sarawak Report which was that he had decided to leave PetroSauid because of Tarek Obaid’s increasingly outrageous, arrogant and drug induced behavior after he became so suddenly rich from the 1MDB deal.
“In March 2011, it became clear that my employment with PetroSaudi would be terminated. I started to worry about how I would provide for myself and family if I didn’t have a job and decided that I needed to protect my financial security. I felt that the best way to do this was to use my access to PetroSaudi’s IT systems to take as much data and information as I could. I didn’t do this because I thought PetroSaudi had done anything wrong. I never saw any wrongdoing while I was at PetroSaudi or afterwards. I did it because I knew the data was important to the company and confidential and I thought I might be able to sell it.”
This was the opposite of what Justo had told Sarawak Report many times, which was that he knew a monstrous amount of money had been stolen in the deal.
His ‘confession’ also goes on to allege that Sarawak Report, who had indeed met Justo, had said his story would be worth a good price and advised $2 million.
This is not true. Any journalist knows that $2 million is a preposterous and world record breaking price for a story and he was putting Sarawak Report in an impossible situation by asking for any money at all, quite apart from such sums.
However, it was clearly important to keep Justo talking and also to get a sense of the material. At that first meeting in Bangkok Justo showed documents that detailed the telegraphic transfers of US$700 million to Good Star’s Coutts Bank account in Zurich.
On the basis of this we issued a warning to the Swiss prosecutors through the good offices of a native NGO even before we broke the story earlier this year. That early warning about PetroSaudi was dismissed, wasting valuable time in the investigation.
Justo also explained at that first meeting that he knew that Good Star was a company belonging to Jho Low.
This meeting therefore informed Sarawak Report that Justo had information that was explosive and also that he knew exactly what the significance and impact of the material could be – it revealed grand corruption at the highest levels in Malaysia and he knew it.
So, Justo’s protestations of ignorance are false and we suggest he is being induced to make them.
In fact, we also know Justo had originally approached Malaysian intermediaries to politicians and various known businessmen asking for whopping US$12 million for the material (so important did he think it was) and they were all still laughing at the joke.
None of these people believed his story at that time about the significance of what he had, but they were gossiping about it and Sarawak Report heard from these various sources about the information and saw the ‘taster’ document Justo had sent out.
We realized the information contained details, which tallied with our own earlier investigations into PetroSaudi and concluded that it was worth tracking down Justo to get the full story on Jho Low and 1MDB, which Malaysia had been talking about for years.
The astonishing ‘confessions’ teased out of Justo without a lawyer present in Bangkok can be read – click here for his initial statement to police.
The tone is grovelling:
“I would like to sincerely apologise to Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony for the harm stress and anxiety I caused them as individuals. I would like to apologise for my criminal behaviour to the Royal Thai Police and the Thai Courts as well as the people of Thailand. I would also like to apologise to the Malaysian government and the people of Malaysia for the harm and upset I have caused them by releasing private data concerning business which has nothing to do with me. I never foresaw the magnitude and harm my actions will cause. I deeply regret what I have done and I fully accept the punishment and authority of the Thai Courts and legal system and I will plead guilty when I go before them. “
Why is Justo apologising to these crooks who have never dared sue Sarawak Report in a British court?
And why is he apologising to Malaysia and Thailand in a corporate blackmail charge related to companies in Europe or is it that other issues and interests being born in upon him – specifically the politics of trying to remove blame from 1MDB?
Finally, there is the question of all the evidence provided by Justo. Sarawak Report is aware of how carefully Justo was concealing this material away from his house and in a very secure hidden place.
So, why did he suddenly and so easily surrender it so early on in the case and why then did he so willingly ‘sing like a canary’ and then admit unnecessary guilt?
Sarawak Report thinks there is a strong likelihood, given what was told to his family, that if Justo believed he was talking to Scotland Yard detectives during the early days of his imprisonment, he was tricked into surrendering his material.
Once Justo’s denouncers and interrogators had all his evidence, including his messages showing how he was trying to get money, he completely lost any power over his situation.
It would have been a devastating shock if he had thought these were British detectives ready to help him and he would have felt completely outwitted and in the power of his captors.
Maybe at this stage they suggested to him it was time to play ball and for a start to stop his family talking to Sarawak Report and other Swiss journalists?
Maybe the ‘detectives’ also soothed him that all was not lost at this stage and that his former friends at PetroSaudi might still be willing to understand his actions and to help him if he made a complete ‘clean breast’ of things?
Justo’s family in one of their rare communications before the trial had told Sarawak Report that he had resigned himself to six months in jail – but he was privately assured this would be the maximum sentence.
How PetroSaudi must have laughed at their hated former colleague who had squealed on how they stole their millions. Three years is plenty of time for the 1MDB scandal to blow over, they must have thought, even if Justo survived the rigours in his known suicidal state.
Yet Mahony has nevertheless visited Justo in his jail, Sarawak Report has heard, to ‘forgive’ him and mend fences. Desperate Justo was later tearful to Swiss reporters over such kindness and regretful of his own betrayal of an old friend, who is still saying he was willing to help him!
It is called Stockholm Syndrome, when a captive starts to love and thank his captors.
So, exactly who were these ‘Scotland Yard Detectives’?
Sarawak Report is willing to venture an educated guess, because as the New Straits Times has extensively reported, a British ‘security and protection’ company, which had been hired by PetroSaudi had personnel in the ground in Bangkok at the time.
Protection Group International (PGI), as all followers of this case are aware, were employed by PetroSaudi to advise them on this ‘theft’ of their computer material and they made many statements designed to give ‘expert opinion’ backing PetroSaudi’s statements of innocence.
Years before, according to Justo, PetroSaudi had in fact attempted to remove all trace of the 1MDB joint venture deal by removing all their computer servers in Britain and Switzerland back to Saudi Arabia. No guessing why.
PGI is a relatively new British company and this appears to be an early major contract after a near bankrupsty and buy out last year.
They are clearly keen to please their high paying clients, because senior personnel were available in Bangkok to speak to New Straits Times at the time of the staged arrest of Justo, where he was paraded before their cameras.
These senior personnel were willing to instantly accuse Sarawak Report of ‘tampering’ with Justo’s material, based on their alleged expertise in the field of “cyber intelligence”.
It was a claim that Sarawak Report was able to immediately rebut with solid evidence, after which PGI senior manager Brian Lord announced that it would take several more months of analysis in a special laboratory belonging to PGI in order to finally determine if in fact ‘tampering’ had occurred.
Yet, said Lord, if Justo’s evidence was really so damning of PetroSaudi, why would Justo ‘bring it’ to a mere blog such as Sarawak Report instead of a big newspaper?
This is an argument that strays well outside Brian Lord’s experience and professional expertise, which we believes demonstrates a willingness by his company PGI to say and do whatever their client requires, while calling themselves experts.
So, we wonder do they pose as Scotland Yard Detectives as well on occasion, in order to get evidence for their various mega-rich clients?
Others in the cyber intelligence business have told Sarawak Report that PGI have little reputation in the cyber field and no laboratory either.
But, PGI do have a staff of ex-military experienced in surveillance and other such tasks.
Were two of these or even Brian Lord himself prepared to engage in a deception, whereby they entered Xavier Justo’s prison in Bangkok and pretended to be Scotland Yard detectives, in order to obtain evidence to use against him and his contacts?
Given that Sarawak Report has been extensively libelled by PGI and Brian Lord and publicly and outrageously accused of doctoring documents by them on behalf of their client PetroSauid, we feel perfectly entitled to ask this question, in the light of the evidence that has emerged around this case.
We would be delighted to hear PGI’s statement denying that they were any way involved in the deception of Justo, as a prelude to hearing a full statement at last from PetroSaudi and PGI, explaining their full role in this shadowy case brought against Justo in Bangkok.