Justo sues The Edge owner, wants leaked PetroSaudi-1MDB data destroyed
KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo has filed a lawsuit against The Edge media group’s Datuk Tong Kooi Ong and two others for failing to fulfil their part of a US$2 million (RM7.8 million) agreement concerning stolen information on 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) now-aborted deal with PetroSaudi International (PSI).
According to Singapore’s Straits Times (ST), Justo, who is now serving a three-year jail term in Bangkok for blackmailing PSI, is seeking damages from the trio and also wants the documents, as well as all copies made, returned and destroyed.
The daily’s report today said court documents filed last November contained claims by Justo that he had handed over two storage drives with 90 gigabytes of data in Tong’s presence in a hotel last February but never saw the US$2 million he was supposedly promised for the information.
The deal between the 48-year-old Justo, a former PSI executive, and Tong as well as Sarawak Report (SR) founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown, was reportedly inked in a document titled “Sale of Justo Property IT Software”, according to ST.
Justo also claimed to have proof of WhatsApp exchanges between himself, Tong and two others, and also said that meetings were held in Bangkok and Singapore regarding the matter, including two with Rewcastle-Brown in a Bangkok hotel in 2014.
ST’s report said in his defence papers, Tong admitted to signing the document on the deal at a February 23 meeting in Fullerton Hotel at Justo’s request but denied being part of any WhatsApp messaging group with the Swiss national.
Tong also admitted that Justo did ask him for payment via WhatsApp but said no money exchanged hands.
Additionally, he denied inducing Justo to hand over the information without payment, the report said.
The daily wrote that Tong is expected to seek direction from the court on the ownership of the leaked PSI data and whether they should be surrendered to Justo and his firm.
The paper did not name the two others named in the suit as defendants who have yet to file their defences, but according to a Bernama report last October, Justo had planned to sue Tong, The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and Rewcastle-Brown.
A “pre-trial” conference is to take place this week, ST’s report said.
On July 27 last year, Tong and Ho publicly confessed to cheating Justo over the promised US$2 million payment in return for documents the Swiss man stole from PSI.
Both Tong and Ho insisted they had not tampered with the documents provided by Justo as alleged, and said they have handed an exact copy of the data they obtained to Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police as evidence in the ongoing investigation.
Shortly after their admission, the Home Ministry suspended printing permits of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily on grounds their 1MDB reports were in breach of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984.
On September 21, the Kuala Lumpur High Court quashed the Home Ministry’s three-month suspension order on The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly over the said reports.
A Thai court sentenced Justo to three years in jail on August 17 after he pled guilty to blackmailing PSI.