Malaysian government warned over 1MDB
1MDB whistleblower Andre Xavier Justo had his prison sentence reduced by a third to a one year sentence by Thai King, on Tuesday 9 August, 2016 REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Andre Xavier Justo, the whistleblower banker who shed light on how funds were embezzled from Malaysian state fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, had his jail sentence for attempted blackmail in Thailand slashed by one third, by the King of Thailand.

Justo, a Swiss national was sentenced to three years jail by a court in Thailand for attempting to blackmail his former employer, PetroSaudi International. He has served one year of his sentence, which runs from 22 June 2015.

The intervention of the Thai King means that the ex-banker has only another year to serve and could be a free man by June 2017.

Information that he allegedly stole from PetroSaudi and tried to sell to media organisations led to the breaking of the 1MDB scandal that resulted in the US Department of Justice (DoJ) launching its largest ever asset seizure case in July 2016.

Justo's lawyer, Worrasit Piriyawiboon, told Bernama news agency that the sentence was reduced in conjunction with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 70 years on the throne and Queen Sirikit's birthday.

He said the announcement was released in a Royal Gazette website on 8 August. "I checked with the correctional officer and he confirmed Justo's name was on the list," the lawyer said.

Justo allegedly tried to sell data he had taken from PetroSaudi to around 10 people, including Malaysian media and even a person from Prime Minister Najib Razak's own political party, Thailand police said during their investigations.

The Swiss national was arrested in his luxury home on the resort island of Koh Samui on 22 June, 2015. He is accused of copying every company email stored on the server before demanding the company pay him $2.5m (£2m).

When PetroSaudi turned down his demand, he approached another group, in a bid to sell the data,. The 'buyers' included Malaysian news group The Edge and newsblog Sarawak Report, and the data that he sold eventually led to news reports into the alleged theft of funds from 1MDB.

Justo is now suing Tong Kooi Ong, owner of The Edge Media Group — plus Ho Kay Tat, the chief executive officer and publisher of The Edge, as well as Sarawak Report founder-editor Clare Rewcastle Brown — for damages. He claims that he handed over two data storage drives in Singapore last year for $2m (£1.5m) but never received the money.

He is now seeking that the items, which contain information about PetroSaudi and its business partner, 1MDB, be returned and for any copies to be destroyed.