English World

Justo: I did it just for the money

KUALA LUMPUR: AFTER languishing in jail for more than two months, a remorseful Xavier Andre Justo wishes for nothing more than a shorter term in the slammer.

Speaking to Swiss national daily Tages-Anzeiger in an interview recently, the 48-year-old expressed devastation after being slapped with a three-year jail term for blackmailing former employer PetroSaudi International.

The former PetroSaudi executive, who was apprehended by Thai authorities at his spacious residence on the resort island of Koh Samui, said he had expected a lighter prison sentence.

“I have co-operated fully (with the Thai authorities),” Justo was quoted as saying in the lengthy interview, which was published in Switzerland on Sept 5.

Justo said he was not challenging the guilty verdict against him, but the long prison sentence imposed on him despite his tell-all on the attempt to sell classified PetroSaudi information.

Although he admitted to his crime in an eleven-page confession, the Thai court decided that he should spend the next three years in a cramped prison cell in Bangkok with 14 other inmates.

“There were 30 of us in the cell after I was first arrested,” he said.

“We slept body on body. It is a lot better now. Everything is reasonably clean, (and) the guards sometimes slip me biscuits.”

Justo had given the interview at a staff room usually used by prison guards, where he made a simple sketch of his prison cell and spoke of the sleep deprivation he had to endure.

“Sleeping is the most difficult thing. You doze off for half an hour and then you are awake again.”

During the interview, Justo said there were 15 beds in his cell, on which the inmates would read, eat, and sleep. There are two toilets and a television set in the corner.

Insisting that he has atoned for his crime, Justo said his unlawful act was fuelled by greed, and not goodwill.

He made it clear that he was not a whistle-blower on the deal between 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and PetroSaudi: “Even that (being called a whistle-blower) would sound good.

“I wanted money. It was greed,” Justo told the interviewer, adding that he had threatened his former employer and that he would sell the data if the latter did not pay him 3.5 million francs (RM15.6 million).

Justo went on to say that he was puzzled as to how he came to the idea. “Betraying long-term friends in such a way is disgusting.”

Expressing deep regret for his actions, Justo said he did not expect that the stolen PetroSaudi data he gave to The Edge Media Group chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong would create a political firestorm in Malaysia.

After the 75-minute interview was over, Justo was ordered back to his cell to rejoin the 14 other men there, where he will serve out the remainder of his three-year jail term.

-NST

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