In a response to The Edge, the Straits Times said today its correspondent in Bangkok was unaware of whatever deals Mr Xavier Justo, the 1MDB whistleblower made with ex-Petrosaudi men.
The response published today and seen on the Straits Times website says :
“If Mr Justo’s new claims are true, they are disappointing.
“Whatever deals Mr Justo had made, or what his deeper calculation was, I was unaware of.
“To verify the claims and as per good journalistic practice, we asked for reactions from key people he named – and we used their reactions as well.”
It is signed by ST correspondent Nirmal Ghosh.
Yesterday, The Edge Malaysia published a 24-page recap of the 1MDB saga.
On the 24th page of the online document, Justo, who is now a free man and met Malaysian PM Tun Mahathir last week, said the interview published by ST was ‘scripted’.
He also said this was part of a blackmail by the ex-PetroSaudi boys whom he named as Mahony and Finnegan.
Justo named the hidden hands as PetroSaudi director Patrick Mahony; and Paul Finnegan, a UK
private detective who disguised himself as a Scotland Yard detective.
Justo told Ho Kay Tat, The Edge publisher that a list of 50 questions was handed to him by the ex-PetroSaudi guys.
“They handed to me a list of 50 questions and answers that I was supposed to use for my interview just before I saw him (Nirmal).
“Everything I told him was prepared by them (Mahony and Finnegan) and I was also told not to bring up the name Jho Low,” Justo says.
Mahony, PetroSaudi’s head of mergers and acquisitions. Mahony met Jho Low in New York in August 2009 where they first discussed how to bring 1MDB to JV with PetroSaudi.
Why the “hidden hands” decided to use Nirmal and ST for the Justo “confession” to spin a fake narrative is open to speculation, said Ho.
The Straits Times carried the interview on July 24, 2015, splashing it on its print and online editions claiming it was a world scoop.
It said it was an interview with Swiss citizen Xavier Andre Justo inside a Bangkok jail.
It was headlined “I was offered $2.7m for stolen data: Ex-PetroSaudi employee Xavier Andre Justo on the 1MDB saga”.
But The Edge Malaysia at that time questioned how the Straits Times could have access to Justo in jail when the Malaysian police did not.
In the ST interview, Justo spoke about the group to which he handed documents related to 1MDB’s transactions with PetroSaudi.
The interview made him say the group told him they intended to “modify the documents” and use them to “bring down the Malaysian government.”
The ST story was picked up by the international media.
Newspapers and TV stations in Malaysia, where the government had just clamped down on an investigation into 1MDB, happily reproduced the ST report.
They were in support of Najib’s narrative, wrote The Edge Media.