High Court revokes former BSI banker's bail

High Court revokes former BSI banker's bail

The Singapore High Court yesterday revoked bail that had been granted to former BSI Bank wealth planner Yeo Jiawei.

Yeo's key role in facilitating illicit transactions involving scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) allegedly led to the shutdown of the Swiss private bank's operations in Singapore.

The prosecution moved to revoke bail of $600,000 granted to Yeo by a lower court on Thursday, calling it a "serious injustice" that will undoubtedly harm public interest and raise palpable domestic and international concerns about the efficacy of (Singapore's) criminal justice and financial system".

Delivering his ruling to a packed court, Justice Chan Seng Onn found that Yeo is "likely to interfere with the investigation... and act to destroy evidence which will subvert the administration of justice".

Yeo, 33, who faces nine counts including forgery, money laundering and obstruction of justice, will stay in remand pending trial. He was in custody for the past 41 days and has been moved to Changi Prison.

Yeo shook his head, and at times looked incredulous, as the prosecution addressed issues of his alleged witness tampering. The prosecution is seeking early trial dates for two charges of obstructing justice.

According to one charge, he asked Mr Kevin Swampillai, BSI's head of wealth management services, on March 27 to lie to police that money Mr Samuel Goh Sze-Wei transferred to Bridgerock Investment, a firm Yeo controlled, was Mr Goh's investment.

Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck cited evidence that Yeo tampered with at least five witnesses on at least five occasions, including asking one to destroy evidence.

"It would not be a stretch to say that (Yeo) himself is aware of the stakes involved in this case, which fuelled his proactive efforts to stymie investigations even before he was formally charged in court."

Mr Kwek was referring to Yeo's violation of a previous bail order after he was arrested on March 17 for alleged violations of securities laws and released on bail the next day.

The prosecution alleged that he breached bail conditions on March 27 when he met Mr Swampillai and Mr Goh, and told them "the time had come to 'collaborate' stories to provide a 'consistent response' to the Commercial Affairs Department if questioned" on funds that went to Bridgerock Investment.

Mr Kwek noted that if Yeo was released on bail, he "may inform his associates and principals of the lines of inquiry of investigations to further obstruct investigations".

Responding to the prosecution's argument that the defence did not challenge evidence of witness tampering, Yeo's lawyer, Senior Counsel Harry Elias, said he had only three hours of access in the past 40 days and that he was not able to take meaningful instructions from Yeo.

But Justice Chan asked if Yeo's lawyers had questioned him about witness tampering, given that the first obstruction of justice charge was filed on April 28, and they had the opportunity to see him on at least three occasions after that.

Mr Elias said he did not have enough access to Yeo, and so could not take meaningful instructions. He said: "If you don't grant him bail, he can't prepare his defence."

The prosecution said Yeo is believed to have received secret profits totalling about US$18 million (S$25 million). "I can assert with certainty that significantly more serious charges will be proferred against him and his associates in due course," Mr Kwek said.

This article was first published on May 28, 2016.
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