Ex-BSI banker trial: Yeo Jiawei told lies and half truths to CAD, say prosecutors

SINGAPORE - Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei told lies and half-truths to the police to hide his use of a second phone line to communicate with his former boss Kevin Swampillai and associate Samuel Goh after they were pulled up for interrogation by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), prosecutors say.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng, in his cross-examination of Yeo on Wednesday morning (Nov 16), said that Yeo, despite being warned by the CAD to not talk to the witnesses, communicated and arranged to meet the two men using a second line because he knew CAD was investigating him for "illicit transactions".

Yeo continued to maintain his innocence on day 10 of the trial against him for the role he played in a massive money laundering operation linked to scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund.

His former superior, Yak Yew Chee, a former BSI private banker to elusive Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, last Friday became the first person convicted in the 1MDB probe. Yak pleaded guilty to four of seven charges, including forging documents and failing to flag suspicious transactions allegedly related to Low.

On Wednesday, Yeo, who is facing four counts of obstruction of justice, admitted on the stand to lying to the CAD about not using a second phone line, but maintained that he did so on instructions by Mr Swampillai because of the possibility that his primary line might be tracked by the government.

Yeo said he was afraid he would get charged if he told the truth about using a second line.

"So you would rather lie to the CAD? ... And you're not afraid of committing another offence by lying to the CAD?" DPP Tan asked.

"Yes I was very confused. I didn't say the truth because I was afraid I would get charged for using a second line. And I wasn't allowed access to my lawyer," Yeo said.

But DPP Tan pointed out that even when Yeo had the opportunity to get legal advice, Yeo didn't mention that he had bought the second line to communicate with Mr Swampillai.

"Only when you were confronted with the call tracing records in court, and the testimony of Swampillai and Sam Goh, that's when you realised the game is up," DPP Tan said.

Yeo disagreed. He continued to maintain that Mr Swampillai and Mr Goh were lying in their testimony to "save their own skin".

In response to DPP Tan's suggestion that Yeo met both men because he knew the CAD was investigating him for illicit transactions, Yeo said he disagreed.

"None of my transactions are illicit," he added.

This article was first published on November 16, 2016.
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