‘Enforcers tackling borderless crimes have multi-jurisdictional legislation’

Xavier Andre Justo

(The Rakyat Post) – Computer crimes remain borderless by nature, and offenders can face charges here when proven their “weapons” — computer, program or data — were linked or used with a computer in Malaysia.

“Offenders can be prosecuted if the system or data was accessed in Malaysian soil,” chairperson of Intellectual Property Committee of the Bar Council Suaran Singh Sidhu said.

He said this commenting on the arrest of Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo (pic), 49, presently held by Thai police, for alleged blackmail and extortion attempts of Saudi-based PetroSaudi International Ltd.

“Though section 9 (1) of the Computer Crimes Act 1997 states that any offence committed under this Act regardless of the offender’s nationality or citizenship, whether it is committed outside or within Malaysia, he or she may be dealt as if the offence was committed at any place within Malaysia.

“However, this section must be read together with section 9 (2) in which the computer, program or data was within the country or capable of being connected to or sent to or used by or with a computer in Malaysia at the material time,” he told The Rakyat Post today.

Despite the alleged tampered information on dealings involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) obtained from PetroSaudi, Suaran said the data was taken from Saudi Arabia.

“Therefore, he cannot be prosecuted here without the connection to data or system in Malaysia,” he explained.

Suaran further pointed out the four offences under the Computer Crimes Act 1997 (Part II) that can be prosecuted in Malaysia, and these are unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offence, unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer and wrongful communication.

Earlier, Sabah state Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has chided former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the latter’s statement over the arrest of Justo.

Salleh criticised the former prime minister, who expressed his puzzlement on the action taken by Thailand authorities against the former PetroSaudi IT executive despite Justo committed the crime in Saudi Arabia.

“Actually, under the Computer Crimes Act 1997, computer crimes are borderless – just like terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking, war crimes, and others,” he said.

The 49-year-old PetroSaudi IT executive was picked up on Monday by Thai police in Koh Samui after the issuance of a Southern Bangkok Criminal Court arrest warrant.

During the arrest, police confiscated computers and other data storage devices, which the authorities believed were used in the alleged attempt blackmail and extortion of PetroSaudi International Ltd.

According to PetroSaudi website, this privately owned oil exploration and production company is involved in various oil and gas industries around the world.

The Saudi-based international company is in the spotlight for its past dealings with the government-owned firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Justo, a former executive at PetroSaudi, allegedly threatened to disclose confidential information, purportedly stolen from PetroSaudi to rival companies, if his demands were not fulfilled.

It was widely reported that Justo has leaked PetroSaudi’s information to a UK-based news website Sarawak Report for reports on the highly-controversial 1MDB.

However, Justo has denied the allegations.