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Justo jailed 3 years for PetroSaudi blackmail

BANGKOK: Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo was jailed three years over the attempted 2.5 million Swiss francs (RM9.95 million) blackmail of his former employer PetroSaudi.

The 49-year-old Justo received the jail term when he confessed to the crime before the Bangkok South Criminal Court here this morning.

A court official, who declined to be named, said the court handed down a six-year jail sentence on Justo, which he needed to serve from his date of arrest June 22.

However Justo needed to only serve three years’ jail because he confessed to the crime before the court which heard the three-hour closed door matter at the King Rama V room at the seventh floor of the court plaza today.

The court official said Justo will need to serve his jail time at a prisons complex here. Married father-of-one Justo, clad in brown Department of Corrections uniform and his feet shackled, was escorted out of the King Rama V room by a group of correctional officers around 12.17pm.

The prosecutor of the blackmail case against Justo, who declined to say anything, left the court two minutes earlier. Justo, married father of one, refused to say anything as reporters swarmed around him at the seventh floor of the plaza.

A lawyer, who appeared on behalf of Justo during the three hour closed-door hearing, declined to comment on what transpired in proceedings. He, who spoked in Thai, also declined to reveal his name.

He however said that he merely appeared on behalf of Pranot Kalanuson, Justo’s actual legal representative, and was not allowed to divulged what happened today until he conferred with Pranot. Later, Pranot said he will seek instruction from Justo whether to file an appeal.

Justo has 30 days from today to file any appeal against today’s verdict. Justo was charged over his attempted blackmailing of his former employers PetroSaudi for 2.5 million Swiss francs( RM9.95 million).

PetroSaudi rejected the demands in 2013. Depending on how the court accepts Justo’s 22-page confession, he may be handed jail time not more than 10 years jail and a fine between THB2,000 (RM222) and THB20,000(RM2223). Justo was arrested at his home at Koh Samui on June 22.

Justo had given interviews, claiming among others that he had purportedly been promised failed to receive RM7.7 million from Datuk Dr Toong Kooi Ong, who owned The Edge Media Group, for documents allegedly over financial abuse in ventures between PetroSaudi and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The Edge Media Group’s two business publications The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly have been suspended for three months over its coverage of the 1MDB issue.

Justo was also alleged to have met a group including the Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and several opposition leaders, over the exchange of purported stolen documents related to the PetroSaudi-1MDB venture.

An arrest warrant was issued by the Kuala Lumpur court against Rewcastle-Brown over her alleged involvement in activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy. The Sarawak Report is now temporarily blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

-New Straits Times

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