KUALA LUMPUR – Where was the alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)-related documents done after they were sold by former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Andre Justo?
That, according to lawyers, is the question when it comes to what legal action Malaysia can take against the Swiss national who figures prominently in the 1MDB issue.
“It is imperative that we find out where a crime was committed before we can decide if we can take legal action under Malaysian jurisdiction,” said lawyer, adjunct professor and author Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu.
Lawyers Akbardin Abdul Kader and Amer Hamzah Arshad concurred, saying the location of the alleged forgery and whether the documents were connected to Malaysia must first be determined.
They were commenting on alleged attempts to topple the government by destabilising the country and jeopardising national security.
It was reported that opposition leaders had met Justo to buy information from him to discredit the Malaysian Government.
Justo was arrested by the Thai police on June 22, and was allegedly the source of leaked tampered documents on PetroSaudi s US$1.2 billion joint venture with 1MDB that fell through in 2009.
He was reported to have confessed to blackmailing his former employers, but not to falsifying documents.
Baljit said: “If any crime was committed in Malaysia, then we can take legal action in accordance with Malaysian law, but if it was committed out of our jurisdiction, this would be a grey area.
“It is a grey area because it occurred out of our jurisdiction and we need to bring it back here to charge the offender.
“Also, witnesses would be needed if Justo were to be brought to court. It is not easy to summon people from outside the country to testify in Malaysia.”
Akbardin said that if the forged documents belonged or were connected to 1MDB, the crime concerned Malaysia.
“1MDB documents are our documents, and if he benefited from selling them, we can apply for his extradition from Thailand.
“But we must have extradition understanding with Thailand and apply to extradite him with solid proof and sound reasons,” he said.
Amer Hamzah said all parties should wait for the Thai authorities to complete their investigations.
“Everyone, politicians included, should stop making statements speculating on what Justo actually did.
“No one has the full facts, so no one should say anything. For all we know, the blackmail charges and the allegations of falsifying documents are two different matters,” he added.