Singapore charges two former BSI bankers with forgery

SINGAPORE - Singapore police charged two former BSI bankers on Monday amid an investigation tied to the scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1MDB that prompted the Singapore central bank to order the local unit of the Swiss private bank to shut down.

Yak Yew Chee, who was a senior vice president at BSI Singapore and handled BSI's relationship with 1Malaysia Development Bhd ( 1MDB), was charged with forgery and failure to disclose suspicious transactions.

The Commercial Affairs Department of Singapore police filed similar charges against Yvonne Seah, a former director at the bank. Both have been released on bail and their passports have been withheld.

Reuters was unable to reach either for comment.

One of Yak's clients was Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, whose assets have been seized by Singaporean authorities as part of the investigation.

Founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is currently the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia will co-operate with the international investigations.

Court documents said Yak "fraudulently" signed letters addressed to BNP Paribas Switzerland, Kendris Ltd and Rothschild Trust AG Switzerland vetting Jho Low as a client at both BSI's branches in Singapore and in Switzerland.

The documents said Yak had reasonable grounds to suspect that $110 million transferred by Jho Low "directly represented proceeds of an act that may constitute criminal conduct" and failed to disclose this suspicion to authorities.

Earlier this year Singapore slapped several charges including money laundering and forgery on Yeo Jiawei, a former wealth manager of BSI. His trial will begin in late October.

In May, Singapore's central bank referred Yak and Seah, among six members of BSI Bank's senior management and staff, to the public prosecutor to evaluate if they had committed criminal offences.

"Investigations into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore are ongoing," the Attorney General's Chambers said in a statement.

"Other individuals, including the other BSI Singapore employees named by MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore), are being questioned or investigated."