Thai Police Seek Evidence in Alleged PetroSaudi-1MDB Extortion

Thai police will have about two months to gather evidence against a former executive of PetroSaudi International Ltd. after he was detained for allegedly extorting money and leaking information on a Malaysian state investment company.

Xavier Justo was arrested on the Thai resort island of Samui Monday for seeking 2.5 million Swiss francs ($2.7 million) from PetroSaudi in exchange for not disclosing confidential information, said Kornchai Klayklueng, deputy commander of the crime suppression division in Bangkok Wednesday. Justo has denied the allegations, the Bangkok Post reported, citing another official at the crime unit.

“Numerous computers, hard drives and other evidence were seized pursuant to a court-ordered search warrant and the investigation is ongoing,” PetroSaudi said in a statement Tuesday. “PetroSaudi is considering further legal action in other jurisdictions.”

Justo, 49, is also alleged to have leaked information about PetroSaudi and 1Malaysia Development Bhd. to a U.K.-based news website, the Bangkok Post said Wednesday, citing police.

1MDB said Wednesday it noted reports of Justo’s arrest and the leaking of proprietary e-mail information belonging to PetroSaudi, as it pledged to cooperate with investigations. PetroSaudi said it was the “victim” of a crime that’s been politicized in Malaysia.

“Initial probes show that some leaked e-mails were tampered with,” 1MDB said. The two companies ended their relationship in 2012, 1MDB said on its website.

Debt Probe

1MDB, set up by the government more than five years ago to build infrastructure, has drawn criticism from lawmakers for borrowings that reached 41.9 billion ringgit ($11.1 billion) as of March 2014. Malaysia’s central bank and auditor-general are among those probing the troubled company, while Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chairs its advisory board, has faced calls from former premier Mahathir Mohamad to step down over 1MDB’s performance.

Najib and 1MDB have responded to Mahathir’s criticisms by saying that auditors should be given time to come up with results from their investigations.

Justo stayed in Thailand after he left the company, while sending e-mails demanding more money and threatening PetroSaudi’s chief executive officer when they met in Bangkok, Kornchai said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE