Ex-BSI banker trial: Yeo Jiawei 'made up to US$15m from Al-Husseiny deals'

SINGAPORE - Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei claimed he received up to US$15 million from deals with Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny - among key figures being probed in an alleged money laundering operation linked to scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) - compared with just a few thousand dollars from servicing Malaysian tycoon Jho Low and his associate Tan Kim Loong.

Under cross examination by the prosecution on day 11 of his trial, Yeo on Thursday (Nov 17) continued to downplay his ties with Low, who is also under investigation here and elsewhere over money-laundering claims linked to 1MDB, by claiming that he earned a mere US$5,000 from setting up bank accounts and trusts and managing companies for Mr Low and Mr Tan.

That compared with up to US$15 million from "introducing" sovereign wealth funds Aabar, 1MDB and SRC International to financial services firm Amicorp, and from business brought by Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny, a former high-level official of Abu Dhabi state fund International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), he said.

Yeo, who faces four counts of obstructing justice, claimed to not know or remember the identity of Chuan Teik Ying, Low's girlfriend, who was also a passenger on Yeo's first trip on a private jet with Low, when questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng.

"I put it to you that you lied about this lady to downplay your relationship with Low," DPP Tan said.

Yeo's relationship with Low, Tan and Al Husseiny came under further scrutiny by prosecutors.

While Yeo claimed he couldn't remember flying Low's private jet to Shanghai from Hong Kong, he later said he was there because he was being introduced to a "high-ranking executive from Mubadala, a government linked company in Abu Dhabi" by Low and former BSI private banker Yak Yew Chee.

When asked if Al Husseiny has a private jet and whether Yeo had flown on this too, Yeo denied having done so to the court on Thursday morning.

But Yeo, in a Whatsapp exchange with Amicorp relationship manager Jose Renato Carvalho Pinto on Dec 4, 2014, produced by prosecution, had told Mr Carvalho that "One day, I should bring you to sit in his plane."

"Why say that to Jose? That implies you are inviting him," DPP Tan said.

"That's the prosecutor's assumption," Yeo replied.

"It's either you took private jet so often that you ...can bring Jose to sit in your client's jet, or you're lying," DPP Tan countered.

"It's neither. We are just chatting, joking. One day if you have a better relationship with Mr Husseiny, you can sit in his private jet and do business with him too. That's what I meant," Yeo said.

Yeo again denied being close to Low, saying that Yak had to be present whenever Yeo met with Low. He also denied the prosecution's allegation that Mr Tan was an important client for him because Mr Tan was a close confidant and business associate of Low.

Yeo's trial, already extended from Nov 11, was due to end on Thursday. Seven other charges concerning cheating, money laundering and forgery are set for trial next year.

This article was first published on Nov 17, 2016.
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