Partner in 1MDB-linked deals made over $5.6m

FORMER head of agency distribution at NTUC Income Samuel Goh Sze Wei, a key prosecution witness in the trial of former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, said yesterday that he received more than US$4 million (S$5.6 million) for his role as Yeo's partner in kickback deals linked to scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Goh, who is now unemployed, was giving evidence on day five of the trial of Yeo.

The latter faces four counts of perverting the course of justice by allegedly urging witnesses to lie to the police while out on bail after he was arrested on March 17 in connection with money laundering.

The trial began last Monday.

The State Court heard last week that Yeo allegedly asked Mr Goh to set up a shell company to act as an intermediary between a fund management company that received payment from a 1MDB-linked shell company, Brazen Sky, and firms controlled by Yeo and Yeo's then BSI supervisor Kevin Swampillai.

This shell company was Bridge Global Managers.

Mr Goh testified yesterday under cross examination by Yeo's lawyer Philip Fong that he received half of the US$1.795 million made over two years by Bridgerock Investment, the firm controlled by Yeo.

According to prosecutors, Yeo had allegedly arranged for Bridgerock and GTB Investment, the firm controlled by Mr Swampillai, to receive a significant portion of referral fees for their own benefit.

These "secret profits" came in the form of a "referral fees" arrangement, in which a portion of the management fees paid by Brazen Sky to fund manager Bridge Partners Investment Management (Cayman) Ltd (BPIM), went to Bridge Global Managers before passing to the firms owned by Yeo and Mr Swampillai.

Mr Goh, 41, also testified that he received more than US$2.25 million from another deal involving Aabar Investments PJS, the main shareholder of Falcon Bank, the second bank shut down by Singapore regulators.

Singapore authorities had earlier said that the 1MDB fund flows being investigated included those linked to Aabar Investments PJS (BVI) and Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (Seychelles).

In addition, at least US$1.24 billion raised through a bond issue by a unit of 1MDB was allegedly transferred to a UBS bank account in Singapore held by Aabar Investments.

The money was meant for Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), but IPIC has denied ownership of Aabar Investments. The transfer was done through BSI Bank in Switzerland.

Mr Goh last Thursday told the court how Yeo was the one who first approached him in 2012 to look for a licensed fund manager for a fiduciary fund structure.

Mr Goh then referred fund manager BPIM to Swiss bank BSI, and said Yeo offered a cut to him.

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