KUALA LUMPUR: The Edge Media Group chairman Tan Sri Tong Kooi Ong told the High Court here that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had threatened him over the news outlet's investigative reporting on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
Tong, 63, who was testifying during re-examination by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's RM2.28bil 1MDB corruption trial, said the threat was made in the second meeting between them in 2014.
The 43rd prosecution witness said that Low, or better known as Jho Low, had sought to meet him (Tong) through a The Edge reporter that year.
"In 2014, after The Edge started writing (the investigative reports on 1MDB), Jho Low contacted me to see me and saw me twice. Jho Low's father, Larry, was a person I have known since the 1990s," Tong said.
The witness said Low told him that he (Low) knew Najib.
"In the first meeting, he told me that The Edge was wrong (in our reporting) and he had nothing to do with 1MDB.
"In the second meeting, he said he knows Najib and we should be careful with what we write," Tong added.
Sri Ram: And what was that message he (Low) intended to convey?
Tong: Same as Paul Stadlen (Najib's former media adviser). It was threatening us to stop.
Sri Ram: It was a threat?
Tong: I took it as a threat.
Sri Ram: How did you respond?
Tong: My usual way. I just ignored the threats.
Earlier, during cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Tong said he paid whistleblower Xavier Andre Justo, who was a former Petrosaudi International executive, US$2mil for exposing the 1MDB scandal.
"I felt that Justo for no whim and fancy and for nothing to gain, paid a huge price to be jailed in Thailand for an action that saved Malaysia from the world's largest kleptocracy," he said.
Najib, 69, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
The hearing continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Wednesday (Nov 23).