On 17th November 2015, Xavier Andre Justo filed a suit against Tong Kooi Ong, Ho Kay Tat and Clare Rewcastle-Brown in the Singapore High Court.
In his Statement of Claim, Justo said that he had entered into an Agreement on 15th February 2015 with the three Defendants to sell them a pen data storage drive and a hard data storage drive together with its contents regarding the dealings between PetroSaudi and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The amount to be paid for this data was US$2 million, which was supposed to be paid by Tong.
Justo cites a document called ‘Sale of Justo Property IT Software’ as the evidence, a series of exchanges of Whatsapp messages (total of 34 pages) between him and the Defendants, and the meetings in Bangkok and Singapore. There were two meetings in Bangkok and two in Singapore.
Justo says that the pen drive and hard drive were handed to the Defendants based on the agreement that they would pay him US$2 million. The Defendants, however, failed to pay him the US$2 million after he had handed over the pen drive and hard drive.
Justo’s Statement of Claim plus the first Defendant’s Statement of Defence, basically denying all allegations, can be viewed at these links below:
Tong’s denial contradicts his earlier statement that he did receive the data and he did agree to pay US$2 million for that data but never paid the money in the end.
These are records of the exchanges of WhatsApp messages between March and May 2015 involving Justo, Tong, Ho and Clare that run into 34 pages and which make very interesting reading. I suggest you go through them slowly to understand how the negotiations went because these 34 pages tell a story.
THE SALIENT POINTS TO THE CASE
Justo was a disgruntled employee of PetroSaudi who wanted to blackmail his previous employer as revenge for terminating his services. Justo then stole some confidential data and contacted Patrick Mahony of PetroSaudi and offered to sell the data back to them for 3.5 million Swiss Francs.
In October 2013, Justo met Mahony at the Shangri La Hotel in Bangkok but PetroSaudi refused to pay what Justo demanded. After looking at the data they concluded that it does not implicate PetroSaudi in any crime.
A few months later, around mid-2014, Clare Rewcastle-Brown phoned Justo and expressed her interest in buying the data. Clare then flew down to Bangkok and met up with Justo at the Plaza Athene. Justo showed Clare some of the documents and also allowed her to take some screenshots as samples.
Clare assured Justo that she has good relations with politicians in Malaysia who would be interested in paying a good price for the data. A second meeting was arranged in the same place in Bangkok about two months later for Clare to obtain more details of the documents to show the buyer.
Another six months passed before Clare came back to Justo in February 2015 and told him that she had managed to get a buyer through a Malaysian politician, Tony Pua. The buyer that Tony Pua had arranged was Tong Kooi Ong who owned The Edge.
The next meeting was held in the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. In attendance were Justo, Clare, Tong and Ho Kay Tat. It was agreed that Justo would hand over all the data he had and the following day the money would be transferred to him.
Meanwhile, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was looking for a way in which to attack Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, saw this as the best weapon to use in that attack. Dr Mahathir met up with Clare and when she confirmed the information and related how she had obtained it, Dr Mahathir went to town with the issue.
The fact that the data was stolen was made known to all parties — Clare, Tony Pua, Tong, Ho and Dr Mahathir. They were also aware that certain parts of the documents had been doctored.