KUALA LUMPUR: The man who first revealed that something was terribly wrong with 1MDB now says that businessman Low Taek Jho was a major player in the scandal.
Swiss banker and whistleblower Xavier Andre Justo also claimed the Najib Razak administration had been complicit in sending him to a Thai jail for three years.
Justo told The Star that he met Low, better known as Jho Low, twice to discuss matters involving 1MDB and PetroSaudi International, with which he was employed.
Both the 1MDB management and the former Najib administration had earlier claimed that Low had nothing to do with 1MDB, even when it was reported that from an initial US$1 billion (RM3.9 billion) wired by 1MDB to PetroSaudi, US$700 million was sent to an account owned by a company called Good Star, controlled by Low.
Justo told The Star: “I met him twice. I have told the Swiss authorities the details.”
He said he suspected something was amiss when he realised that large sums of money were being transacted and that PetroSaudi was making enormous commissions.
“(PetroSaudi’s top officials) Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony had access to the real numbers, but I knew something was wrong. There are commissions in the oil business. That’s the way it is and there is no need to be naive. Oil business means corruption.
“It is something to take 1% or 5%, but it is something else to take more than 80% of the amount in commission. I knew that something was wrong, but I wasn’t expecting this madness,” Justo was quoted as saying.
Justo was convicted and jailed in Thailand for attempting to blackmail PetroSaudi over a stolen cache of documents in 2015. He was pardoned in conjunction with the celebration of the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 70 years on the throne and Queen Sirikit’s birthday in 2016.
On his claims that the Najib administration had been complicit in sending him to jail, Justo said: “Mr Patrick Mahony, on the authorisation or the direction of people of your government, and with the collaboration of your government, went to see me inside the prison.”
Justo said he had not stolen the files, but had held on to them because he wanted the money owed to him by PetroSaudi.
Justo said he gave the files to Tong Kooi Ong, the owner of The Edge Communications of Malaysia, through Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown after being convinced that they were sincere in wanting to reveal the 1MDB scandal.
He told The Star: “At the beginning, of course, I said I wanted money. I could have sold these files for a lot of money. I just wanted the money owed to me by PetroSaudi.
“I just want all of them, starting from the first to the last, to be punished for their crimes.
“It’s not only about the money they stole. Yes, it’s very bad because this money was supposed to go to (things like) children’s education and healthcare instead of luxury bags, boats, jets and prostitutes. This is a financial crime.
“They also did worse than that. They killed people. They threatened people. They sent me to jail. They threatened my wife with arrest. They warned my wife that my son would end up in a Thai orphanage. They have to pay for that.”
He also said he was not a hero and that the real heroes were the people of Malaysia.