Ex-BSI Banker Has New Charges in 1MDB Probe; Another Man Chargedby
Charges stem from investigation into banker related to 1MDB
Yeo ``has been economical with the truth,'' says prosecutor
Singapore authorities brought two more charges against a former private banker held without bail following a probe into an embattled Malaysian state fund, while another man has been accused of corruption.
Ex-BSI SA private banker Yeo Jiawei faces accusations of attempting to pervert the course of justice and of cheating the bank, according to court papers filed on Thursday. That’s in addition to the charge of money laundering brought against Yeo on April 16.
While the charges didn’t mention 1Malaysia Development Bhd. by name, they stem from investigations into the fund’s money flows, people familiar with the case had said. Yeo, 33, had proposed investment products to 1MDB while at BSI and was questioned as part of Singapore’s probe, the people had said.
The documents filed with the court on Thursday referred to Yeo’s dealings with firms linked to 1MDB, Brazen Sky Ltd. and Bridge Partners Investment Management, the fund manager of Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund SPC. The prosecutor alleged that in 2012 Yeo hid from BSI that an entity he owned would receive about $1.6 million a year in money that was a portion of a management fee paid by Brazen Sky to Bridge Partners.
1MDB has previously said that in September 2012, it sold a stake in a venture for $2.32 billion and received fund units in a Cayman registered fund managed by Bridge Partners, a Hong Kong-based fund manager. A Malaysian parliamentary report in April identified the Cayman fund as Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund. 1MDB said the fund units were owned by its subsidiary Brazen Sky, and held through BSI Bank Singapore as custodian. The units were valued at $2.32 billion as of March 31, 2015, according to 1MDB.
Authorities across the globe are examining claims that 1MDB was used to funnel money to politically-connected individuals. The Malaysian parliamentary committee identified at least $4.2 billion of irregular transactions by the fund. Malaysia’s central bank on Thursday fined 1MDB and announced it was ending its probe into the troubled state fund.
Separately, Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, 34, was charged on April 20 for corruptly giving S$3,000 ($2,200) to research analyst Lee Chee Waiy, according to the charge sheet. Ang was accused of paying Lee the amount to speed up the preparation of a favorable valuation report. The charge sheet didn’t give further details.
Ang was “implicated in a number of illicit transactions” together with Yeo, Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers said in a statement. Ang has been remanded and couldn’t be reached for comment, while Lee declined to comment.
Yeo has been held without bail, and on Thursday was further remanded until May 5. He was also denied access to his lawyer.
“There is no reason to continue to hold him indefinitely in breach of the presumption of innocence, and worse still, deny him his constitutional right to counsel,” his lawyer Philip Fong said in court. “He has no reason and inclination to run away.”
Kwek Mean Luck, second solicitor-general, said at the court hearing that fresh evidence had surfaced in the case, and investigations were at a sensitive stage. Yeo had displayed a “wanton damaging attitude” toward the investigation, Kwek told the court. In a hearing last week, Kwek described the probe as “the most complex cross border investigation” the city-state has done.
Kwek said Yeo had not only been uncooperative but had possibly impeded Singapore’s probe.
“Investigators have had to work with an accused who has been economical with the truth, and who has had no qualms with active interference in the investigations,” Kwek said. “It is entirely likely that he may have attempted to subvert the evidence of other material witnesses.”
The cases are Public Prosecutor v Yeo Jiawei and Public Prosecutor v Kelvin Ang Wee Keng.
(An earlier version of this story corrected the banker’s name in the headline.)