PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown has described “whistleblower” Andre Xavier Justo as a real hero who provided information that broke the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.
“He paid for that with 18 months’ imprisonment. He made a remarkable sacrifice.
“He has a huge regard for Malaysia and he really wanted to see a happy ending,” she told FMT in an interview.
In August 2015, Thai police arrested Justo for leaking documents from Petrosaudi International relating to its joint venture with 1MDB. The papers were published by Malaysian and international media groups last year and formed the basis of the money-laundering investigation.
He was arrested on a Thai resort island following allegations of theft of documents by Petrosaudi International, a Saudi Arabia-based oil and gas company and former joint venture partner of 1MDB.
His arrest was for allegedly demanding payment in exchange for not disclosing confidential information, Thai police said at the time.
Former prime minister Najib Razak has denied any wrongdoing in connection with 1MDB and the attorney-general at the time, Apandi Ali, had concurred with that.
Rewcastle-Brown also praised Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for meeting Justo, saying it was extremely appropriate and well deserved.
Rewcastle-Brown, who can now travel freely to Malaysia after the new Pakatan Harapan government dropped an arrest warrant against her, said she knew Justo was in town but had not yet spoken to him.
“We have to remember that it was Xavier who actually provided all the information for the first part of the probe into 1MDB.
“He provided the information that broke open the scandal.
“He is a real hero. A real whistleblower. I am glad he was received by Mahathir.”
Revelations of the tangled web of financial deals and investments, involving Penang-born businessman Low Taek Jho and the government-owned 1MDB, eventually led to investigations across the world and accusations by the US Department of Justice of “kleptocracy” involving as much as US$4 billion.
Mahathir, after taking office last week, ordered fresh investigations into 1MDB and another government-owned company, SRC International, as well as the flow of hundreds of millions of ringgit through bank accounts in the name of Najib, who as finance minister had oversight over 1MDB.
The investigations led to a two-day search of Najib’s house and the seizure of almost 300 cartons of luxury handbags and 72 luggage bags containing cash, jewellery and other items.