KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 30): Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he had rejected the “proof” of wrongdoings by 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) mastermind Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), presented to him in 2015 by The Edge Media Group chairman Tong Kooi Ong, as it was based on stolen emails by a disgruntled employee.

See: You didn’t know Jho Low cheated us? I showed you evidence and you showed me the door

In a Facebook post yesterday, Najib said former PetroSaudi International (PSI) employee Andre Xavier Justo had stolen the emails and then used them to blackmail his friend and employers for years.

“There was also an allegation that the documents had been amended. The ex-employee was subsequently convicted in Thailand for blackmail,” he said, without referring to Justo by name.

Tong had written in the latest issue of The Edge that he had met Najib in March 2015 and shared with him information obtained from Justo that “I believed was proof that it was all a scam, with Jho Low at the centre of it”.

“I explained how the accounts were made up to report a profit and what I believed the cash was all gone,” Tong said.

He added: “I then proceeded to tell Najib that Jho Low must be held accountable and be prosecuted. This upset him. He immediately stood up, walked to the door and asked me to leave.”

Najib, in his Facebook post, noted that PSI was owned by Tareq Obaid and subsequently by Prince Turki Abdullah, the then Riyadh governor and seventh child of King Abdullah.

“At the time, we asked PetroSaudi whether the widely spread allegation (of its involvement in the scam) was true. PetroSaudi replied via an official letter that it was false and that Good Star [Ltd] had always been a subsidiary of PSI.

“This involved subsequent payment by PetroSaudi and profits in the form of fund units, supposedly guaranteed by Aabar Corp and owned by Abu Dhabi government-owned International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).

“During that time, any payments made to PSI were returned along with the profit in the form of fund units. The units were guaranteed by Aabar and owned by IPIC, whose asset size was double that of Khazanah Nasional Bhd,” he said.

Najib added that 1MDB’s then auditor, which was among the top four in the world, had confirmed the value of the units and did not raise any doubt over the existence of Aaabar’s guarantee.

Wong & Partners, a top legal firm hired by 1MDB to prepare the agreement and witness the fund’s transactions with the companies, also did not find anything wrong, he said.

“After meeting Tong in March 2015, we signed a settlement agreement with IPIC in June 2015 and converted the fund units taken over by IPIC to a US$3.5 billion bond issue. I myself contacted UAE’s crown prince and he paid US$1 billion to 1MDB to begin the process,” Najib said.

At that time, said Najib, there were no signs showing that the guarantee of units or the amount paid by 1MDB to Aabar BVI was a scam. However, towards the end of 2015, IPIC disputed the guarantee and denied owning Aabar.

“This happened after the UAE crown prince’s right hand man Khadem Al Qubaisi was dismissed from his role as a director of IPIC,” he said, adding that Putrajaya had also initiated an investigation into 1MDB by the Public Accounts Committee as well as an audit of the fund.

“Yes, Tong might be right today but in March 2015 it was his words, based on the claims of an employee who was disgruntled, against what was explained by the Riyadh governor and the Saudi prince, an international auditor, and Aabar’s highest management,” he said.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 30, 2018.