Former private banker charged following Singapore 1MDB probe

Former private banker charged following Singapore 1MDB probe

SINGAPORE - A former private banker has been charged with money laundering by Singapore authorities, following their probe into troubled investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In a statement on Friday (April 22), the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said that Yeo Jiawei, 33, was charged with an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes Act.

The AGC added that investigations are ongoing and that no further details are available.

According to The Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia, Mr Yeo was charged on April 16 for receiving S$200,000 in his Bank of China account, which represented "benefits from cheating".

He could be jailed for up to 10 years, or face a fine of up to S$500,000.

While the charge made no mention of 1MDB, Bloomberg reported that it is among the first formal charges to stem from Singapore's investigations into the fund's money flows.

Mr Yeo was a wealth planner with Swiss private bank BSI, and had proposed investment products to 1MDB. According to Reuters, a secretary at the bank confirmed that he was no longer an employee.

BSI's Singapore branch is increasingly emerging as one of the most intertwined with the Malaysian state fund. Earlier this year, another former BSI employee, Mr Yak Yew Chee, applied to the High Court to access funds that had been frozen by Singapore authorities as part of the 1MDB probe. It was reported that Mr Yak was the private banker of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho.

The charges against Mr Yeo is the latest development in the long-running 1MDB saga. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who heads 1MDB's advisory board, has often been linked to the fund's troubles, following a Wall Street Journal report last year that nearly US$700 million (S$945 million) from 1MDB was deposited into his personal accounts.

Malaysia's attorney-general has since cleared Mr Najib of wrongdoing, revealing that the money was a donation from the Saudi Arabia royal family.

However, 1MDB has also been the subject of various probes by authorities across the globe, including Singapore, Switzerland, United States and Luxembourg.

Earlier in April, Switzerland's Office of the Attorney-General sent a request to their Singapore counterparts for information and documents on 1MDB money flows. In response, AGC said that it will "render all possible assistance expeditiously".

The Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department also announced in February that they had seized a large number of bank accounts linked to alleged financial misappropriation at 1MDB.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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