Swiss national sentenced over blackmail attempt on ex-employer PetroSaudi

Swiss national sentenced over blackmail attempt on ex-employer PetroSaudi
Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo (R), 49, is escorted by Thai officials as he leaves a courthouse in Bangkok on August 17, 2015.

BANGKOK - Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo will spend three years in jail over the attempted blackmail of his former employer PetroSaudi International.

The sentence was meted out by a criminal court judge in Bangkok South after the 49-year-old confessed to the crime in a closed-door hearing which lasted for three hours.

Justo, a former IT executive at PetroSaudi, will serve the sentence from the date of his arrest on June 22, and will do his time at a prison in Thailand.

He was charged under Section 338 of the Thai Penal Code, which carries a jail sentence of between one and 10 years, and a fine of between 2,000 baht (S$80) and 20,000 baht.

Court officials said an original sentence of six years was reduced to three upon taking into consideration Justo's guilty plea and the confession he had signed while in police custody.

The Swiss national was told he has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

Justo's lawyer, Pranot Kalanuson, who was not at yesterday's hearing, said he would consult his client on the next course of action.

"I will seek instructions from my client on whether he wishes to appeal," the lawyer told reporters briefly over the phone.

Justo appeared calm and collected as he emerged from the King Rama V room of the court complex, where the hearing was held, at 12.15pm.

Clad in brown overalls and handcuffed at the wrists and ankles, Justo did not utter a word to the waiting media as he was escorted away by prison officials.

A lawyer, who only identified himself as an assistant to Pranot, was reluctant to divulge details of what was said by Justo during the hearing.

"I am not allowed to divulge any details until I have spoken to Pranot," he said in Thai.

Justo arrived at the court in a prison van at 9.15am, and was quickly ushered into the building through a side entrance for prisoners.

He was arrested by the Thai police at his home in Koh Samui on June 22 and charged with blackmailing his former employer over confidential data that was stolen from the company.

Thereafter, he signed a full confession detailing how he had met several individuals from Malaysia with the intention of selling them the stolen information.

The Swiss national, however, denied allegations that the data had been tampered with or doctored.

Thai police completed their investigation early this month and handed the case over to state ­prosecutors.

Justo's case garnered interest in Malaysia as the stolen documents are said to contain confidential information on a joint venture between PetroSaudi and state ­investment arm 1Malaysia Development Bhd.


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