Whistleblower portal Sarawak Report today produced the leaked documents belonging to PetroSaudi International (PSI) that were alleged to have been tampered with, to prove that there were no actual changes to the contents.
The portal acted in response to a report by Umno-linked New Straits Times , quoting cyber intelligence firm Protection Group International (PGI), which made the tampering claim.
"For example, when we looked into a PowerPoint file that was on one of the Sarawak Report’s blogs, we found evidence in the metadata of that file that it had been handled by a certain “xavierj” in 2013.
"(This was) two years after Justo left PetroSaudi, and four years after the file had originally been created by a law firm that advised PetroSaudi," said the PGI expert, in reference to arrested former PSI staff Xavier Andre Justo (photo)
Even though the claim was made by a private firm hired by PSI, Putrajaya used this as a basis to threaten action against 1MDB's critics.
The leaked information from PSI involved communications with 1MDB, which caused the latter to become embroiled in controversy.
Sarawak Report said the file that PGI was referring to was a PowerPoint presentation created by PSI's legal firm, White & Case, to show how US$700 million could be transferred from the joint venture between PSI and 1MDB.
The whistleblower site had claimed that the amount eventually went to Good Star Ltd, a company controlled by Malaysian billionaire Jho Low, who is close with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's family.
Zooming in on the PowerPoint document, Sarawak Report produced the first version of the file that was created in 2009, with the metadata showing it was last handled by "WC users", in reference to PSI's law firm.
This was compared with the Jan 17, 2013 version, the metadata of which showed "xavierj" as the last handler and was referred to by PGI as having been tampered.
Alleged tampered file was unchanged
"This version of this PowerPoint did indeed contain the metadata showing that it had been 'saved’ by ‘xavier’ in 2013.
"But the PowerPoint copy itself has not been changed at all.
"There is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the claim that Justo tampered with or changed the original document – merely that he opened and copied them," Sarawak Report said.
The whistleblower portal added that the only time the file's content was modified was a day after the it was created, on Sept 21, 2009, by PSI's law firm White & Case.
It said this was to add the name of a Jersey-based company owned by PSI, which was left blank when the file was initially created as the company had yet to be incorporated.
Sarawak Report also produced the email from White & Case to PSI, informing the PSI about the addition.
"Revised steps plan attached - now with the name of Jersey Company included," reads the email.
"All the evidence that we have are also plainly available to PetroSaudi. Therefore, we can add that PetroSaudi deliberately and maliciously lied when it claimed that its former employee had tampered and altered the document.
"In which case the 'experts' hired from PGI were either misquoted or they have too libellously exaggerated the significance of their findings to suit the requirements of PetroSaudi, which had hired PGI to undermine the evidence of their involvement in a multi-billion ringgit fraud.
The whistleblower portal added that it will demand an explanation on the "tampering" allegation.
To date, PSI and 1MDB have insisted that the claims by Sarawak Report were based on "tampered information" but had never provided evidence of what had been tampered with.
Sarawak Report is insisting that its report is correct and has challenged critics to sue the portal.