Banker jailed for role in 1MDB saga

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

A SIN­GA­POREAN pri­vate banker has been jailed on fraud charges re­lat­ing to Malaysia’s 1MDB fi­nan­cial scan­dal, be­com­ing the first fig­ure to be con­victed in the in­ter­na­tional multi-bil­lion-dol­lar saga.

Al­le­ga­tions that huge sums were mis­ap­pro­pri­ated from the Malaysian state fund through mon­ey­laun­der­ing have trig­gered a mas­sive cor­rup­tion scan­dal which has em­broiled Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak.

Prose­cu­tors said Yak Yew Chee, a for­mer manag­ing di­rec­tor at the Sin­ga­pore branch of Swiss bank BSI, helped man­age funds linked to 1MDB, which was set up by Mr Na­jib with the help of a close fam­ily friend, Malaysian fi­nancier Low Taek Jho.

Mr Yak, 57, who was also a pri­vate banker to Mr Low, forged ref­er­ence let­ters to Swiss banks and funds, and failed to re­port sus­pi­cious money trans­fers in­volv­ing ac­counts be­long­ing to his client, the prose­cu­tors said.

He was sen­tenced to 18 weeks in jail af­ter plead­ing guilty to four charges of forgery and fail­ure to re­port sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions re­lated to the in­vest­ment fund.

He was also fined S$24,000 (US$17,000) by the Sin­ga­pore court.

One of th­ese trans­ac­tions saw a 1MDB sub­sidiary trans­fer $110 mil­lion, chan­nelled through six banks and nine ac­counts, to the Swiss bank ac­count of Selune Ltd, a com­pany US in­ves­ti­ga­tors have said is owned by Mr Low.

The banker for the sub­sidiary, 1MDB En­ergy, was Fal­con Pri­vate Bank, whose Sin­ga­pore branch was shut down by reg­u­la­tors this year.

The com­plex web of trans­ac­tions cut across in­ter­na­tional bor­ders as the money passed through ac­counts con­trolled by Mr Low and his fa­ther.

The trans­ac­tions were flagged as sus­pi­cious by BSI com­pli­ance of­fi­cers but dis­missed by the bank’s se­nior man­age­ment who said that “in­tra-fam­ily trans­fers are not al­ways go­ing to be log­i­cal”.

Mr Yak was paid a bonus of S$7.5 mil­lion for his deal­ings that has now been for­feited to the state.

Mr Na­jib, Mr Low and 1MDB have all strongly de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Be­fore hand­ing down the sen­tence, judge Jen­nifer Marie said she hoped “to send a strong sig­nal to the pub­lic and er­rant bankers in par­tic­u­lar that the courts will not tol­er­ate such con­duct that harms the stand­ing and rep­u­ta­tion of the fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions of Sin­ga­pore”.

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