Malaysians ask for Thai help in 1MDB case
Cops refuse to share data from key arrest
Thai police on Thursday turned down a request from Malaysian diplomats and police for information gathered after the arrest of a Swiss national accused of leaking information to a website that has alleged state fund misappropriation by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
National police chief Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang told the delegation they could not share data from the police interviews with Xavier Andre Justo, who was arrested at a house on Koh Samui on June 22, police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said. During the arrest police also seized computers, hard drives and other data storage devices.
"We have told them we can't share such data because it is part of our ongoing investigation. But if they really want it, they should use diplomatic channels by approaching the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Pol Lt Gen Prawut told reporters.
- UPDATE: Justo 'confessed to blackmail
Mr Justo, 49, is accused of attempting to blackmail and extort money from his former employer, PetroSaudi International.
Malaysian media reported he had provided information to the London-based Sarawak Report website about PetroSaudi and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state development fund with an advisory board which Mr Najib chairs.
The website reported on a joint venture deal between the two companies that had been initiated by Jho Low, a financier and friend of Mr Najib's stepson, in Sept 2009. It alleged Mr Low siphoned off US$700 million (24 billion baht) from the deal into an account he controlled.
PetroSaudi has denied the reports and 1MDB has denied links with Mr Low.
Pol Lt Gen Prawut said Mr Justo was part of a network that has damaged the government of Malaysia. "People in this network met in Thailand and Singapore. They traded information for cash and the payment was made through a laundering process by transferring the money to an island country. This wrongdoing took place in Singapore," he said, adding that police found traces of the data being tampered with by the buyer.
Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper reported on June 25 that Mr Justo stole data from his former employer with the sole purpose of selling it to the highest bidder. It added that the Thai police possessed a series of written demands from Mr Justo to PetroSaudi promising to return the stolen data if he was paid enough.
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that investigators looking into the 1MDB fund had traced nearly US$700 million that came through a private bank account in Singapore into accounts in Malaysia which they believed belonged to Mr Najib. Mr Najib has denied taking any money from 1MDB or any other entity for personal gain.