Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, the chairman of The Edge Media Group, has given Xavier Andre Justo an RM8.2 million (S$2.7 million) gift for his part in exposing what went on behind the scenes at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The sizable gift was given to Justo, a banker from Switzerland, at a recent visit Justo made with his wife and son at The Edge’s office in Petaling Jaya, according to a report from The Edge.
Tong explained that the cash gift was a way of expressing gratitude for exposing the rampant corruption in former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Barisan Nacional (BN) administration.
The chairman said, “The gift to Justo is in appreciation of his contribution to Malaysia in helping to expose the kleptocracy of the past Government. Without him, the wrongdoings involving 1MDB, as exposed by The Edge, would not have come to light.”
The exposés, which first saw the light almost four years ago, has sparked a worldwide investigation. They showed that US$6.5 billion (S$8.77 billion) had been siphoned from the fund.
According to the US Department of Justice, the 1MDB scandal is the biggest case of kleptocracy it has ever uncovered.
Justo gave information concerning the billions stolen from the fund to The Edge and to Sarawak Report, and therefore became a target for those who feared his exposés. He ended up in jail in Thailand for one and a half years due to blackmail charges in 2015.
Tong added, “His family was harassed and intimidated while he was languishing in jail. No one should have to go through what he had to endure for helping to reveal the truth. On behalf of all Malaysians, I would like to say thank you to him and his family.
The Edge’s chairman also sought to help clear Justo’s name, saying, “I would also like to add that Justo has confirmed to me that the accusation that he stole the data is untrue. My lawyers had tried to reach PetroSaudi on their past claims and they had chosen repeatedly not to respond.”
In return, Justo also expressed his gratitude.
“I would like to say thank you to Tong. The gift from him will go a long way in helping me and my family rebuild our lives. I take comfort (from the fact) that I have not suffered in vain. Malaysians got to learn the truth (about 1MDB) and I eventually got my freedom back.”
The Swiss banker has chosen to settle down with his wife Laura and their four-year-old Xander in Malaysia, where they are looking for a school for the young boy.
He told Free Malaysia Today how thankful he was for the gift from The Edge. “It is a reward for our family’s suffering to expose the 1MDB scandal. We lost everything, but even after my release after 18 months in jail, we fought for the truth to be established. We never gave up the fight against the real criminals, and we are still committed to bringing down the people who stole the money from Malaysians so that they can face justice.”