Thai gov’t calls Future Forward’s 1MDB accusations ‘slander’


A Sunday press conference hosted by the disbanded Future Forward Party shows a picture of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, whose military government has been accused of involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Photo: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit / Twitter
A Sunday press conference hosted by the disbanded Future Forward Party shows a picture of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, whose military government has been accused of involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Photo: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit / Twitter

The government said it is considering legal action against a recently disbanded opposition party for “slandering” the prime minister, who led the 2014 coup, of aiding Malaysia in covering up its massive 1MDB scandal.

Spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat this morning said accusations made by the Future Forward Party that the junta which ruled five years and forms the core of the current government conspired with the former Malaysian PM now on trial in the 1MDB scandal were “not true.”

“It’s slander to make society confused. Right now, the involved organizations are considering legal proceedings against [Future Forward Party],” she said. “We’ll make an official announcement.”

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who is at the center of the accusations, told reporters this morning that his government would fight back against the accusations.

“If [the allegations] are not true, we have to sue them back,” Prayuth said. 

At the heart of the allegations is the 2015 arrest in Thailand of a Swiss whistleblower who leaked thousands of emails and gigabytes of data laying bare the staggering scope of the public funds being looted in Malaysia, crimes for which former PM Najib Razak is on trial for while the mastermind, party-loving Malaysian financier Jho Low, remains on the run. 

On Sunday, Future Forward spokeswoman Pannika Wanich said at a news conference that the junta, which Prayuth led after seizing power in 2014, “formed a dark alliance” with Najib’s government to arrest Xavier Justo, an executive at PetroSaudi International Ltd., on Koh Samui in June 2015. 

A Swiss citizen, he was accused of attempting to “extort” and blackmail the Saudi Arabia-based oil and gas company. After locking him up, Thai police said he confessed to the crime. In the 2018 book Billion Dollar Whale, former Wall Street Journalist reporter Tom Wright described Justo as being forced under threat to confess, and says Thailand continued to hold him at Malaysia’s behest. Justo was among 15,000 inmates granted royal amnesty by King Vajiralongkorn in 2016 and deported to Switzerland.


Pannika’s comments came on the eve of a no-confidence debate against Gen. Prayuth and five of his cabinet members today in parliament. She also accused Thailand for harboring Jho Low and allowing him to hide in the kingdom despite the existence of an Interpol red notice seeking cooperation in his arrest.

Pannika, like Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and deputy party leader Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, were banned from politics for 10 years in Friday’s verdict, which immediately ignited calls of renewed street rallies.


Related:

Malaysian government files charges against global bank Goldman Sachs over 1MDB

1MDB fugitive Jho Low just enjoyed a three-day trip to Ahmedabad, India: report

Q&A: ‘Billion Dollar Whale’ co-author Tom Wright talks Jho Low, 1MDB, and the global elite who made the scam of the century possible

The Edge bosses admit to offering – but not paying – Xavier Justo USD2 mil for 1MDB information

Thai police say ex-PetroSaudi official admits to blackmail

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