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1MDB whistleblower under investigation in Switzerland

Genevan Xavier Justo, pictured in Malaysia in May 2018. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The Swiss Attorney General has opened an investigation, on the grounds of suspected economic espionage, into the whistleblower who brought to light the 1MDB corruption scandal.

Xavier Justo, a Swiss citizen who leaked data from his ex-employer PetroSaudi to show massive siphoning of cash from the 1MDB Malaysian sovereign fund, is now the subject of an investigation opened last November by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The OAG confirmed the probe – as well as the September authorisation by then justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga to prosecute Justo – on Thursday, confirming reports in several Swiss newspapers.

The OAG declined to give further information on the case but said that it fell under article 273 of the Swiss Penal Code: suspicion of economic espionage.

+ Swiss and Malaysian prosecutors join forces in 1MDB probe

Justo, a former employee of PetroSaudi, was at one point during the 1MDB case arrested and imprisoned in Thailand for attempted blackmail of the energy company. He is now free.

PetroSaudi accuse him of having stolen the data, which reveal corruption involving the 1MDB fund to the tune of $4.5 million. Justo says he was given the information by an IT engineer.

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was arrested and charged with corruption in connection with the case last year, while a global investigation remains underway. Several Swiss banks have also been accused of funneling money from the sovereign fund.

The probe into Justo comes as Swiss politicians continue to debate how best, and how much, to protect whistleblowers that reveal corporate corruption.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR