Singapore Brings 7th Charge Against Ex-BSI Banker in 1MDB Probeby
Prosecutor seeking to end investigations in 2-3 weeks
Latest charge is one of forgery in relation to funds transfer
The former BSI SA private banker charged amid probes related to the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. was also accused of forgery with Singapore authorities signaling they plan to bring the investigations to a close within weeks.
The latest charge, submitted in a Singapore state court hearing against Yeo Jiawei on Thursday, brings the total to seven as the probe reaches a "critical stage," Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck said in court. He already had six other charges including money laundering, cheating BSI by dishonest concealment and obstructing justice. Yeo’s lawyer challenged the court’s decision to continue holding his client in custody.
Yeo was charged Thursday with signing a reference letter to Citigroup Inc. in December 2013 and misrepresenting it as bearing the authority of BSI. The letter was written to facilitate a transfer of $11.95 million from SRC International (Malaysia) Ltd.’s BSI account to Affinity Equity International Partners Ltd., a company beneficially owned by Tan Kim Loong, using Pacific Harbour Global Growth Fund AA4 as an intermediary.
The latest charge comes amid the city’s most complex cross-border investigation undertaken by the white-collar police, with authorities across the globe examining claims that 1MDB was used to funnel money to politically-connected individuals. Malaysia’s central bank has announced it was ending its probe into 1MDB and fined the state investment fund.
Yeo, who’s held in custody in Singapore, said via video link in court that he was "complying with anti-money laundering provisions" with the Citigroup letter and didn’t understand why he was charged.
While the charges didn’t mention 1MDB by name, they stem from investigations into the fund’s money flows, people familiar with the case have 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.
Prosecutors have accused Yeo of receiving secret profits of at least $4 million and playing a key role in moving “staggering” amounts of money.
Prosecutors have also 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. Yeo’s lawyer Philip Fong said in court that other employees and ex-employees of BSI are in a similar position to explain some of the transactions under investigation.
Yeo has been in remand since April 15 and was charged April 20, and will be held for one more week until May 19. A second man has been accused by Singapore prosecutors of corruption and being implicated in illicit transactions with Yeo.
Yeo’s lawyer said some of the charges against his client didn’t pertain to the case on 1MDB. He objected to prosecution’s request to keep Yeo in custody, saying he was only allowed 30 minutes with his client on May 9 and asked for more reasonable access.
Yeo’s parents and wife are also being investigated for allegedly receiving illicit funds, Kwek said. Authorities are seeking to bring an end to investigations into Yeo in two to three weeks, he said.
The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Yeo Jiawei, Singapore State Court.