Singapore Gives Toughest Sentence Yet in 1MDB-Related Case

  • Ex-BSI banker Yeo gets 30 months for obstruction of justice
  • He is third ex-BSI banker found guilty in Singapore probes

Yeo Jiawei, a former wealth planner at Swiss bank BSI SA, was given a 30-month jail term, the longest sentence yet handed down by the courts in Singapore’s probes linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Yeo, 34, is the third former BSI banker to be found guilty in the city’s 1MDB-related investigations. Yak Yew Chee is serving an 18-week jail term and was fined after being convicted in November of forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions allegedly related to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Another banker, Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, was jailed for two weeks and fined on Dec. 16 for similar offenses. In Yeo’s case, the prosecution had asked for a 36-month sentence.

“The accused has been found guilty of serious offenses that go to the heart of the administration of justice and do violence to the rule of law in Singapore,” said prosecutors in their address on the sentence. “Such conduct must be unequivocally stamped out and deterred.”

Singapore is cracking down on errant bankers after its reputation as a financial center was put at risk following breaches of anti-money laundering rules at several banks. The city fined firms including UBS Group AG and Standard Chartered Plc and ordered BSI and Falcon Private Bank Ltd. to close their local operations after lapses allegedly linked to 1MDB were discovered.

Prosecutors claimed that Yeo, who denied the charges, attempted to tamper with witnesses to hide his illicit wealth and to downplay his ties with Low. Those convicted of perverting the course of justice in Singapore may be jailed for as long as seven years and fined. Yeo’s sentence is backdated to April, when he was remanded.

Low is a key person of interest in Singapore’s investigations surrounding the scandal-hit Malaysian investment fund, which is at the center of multiple inquiries across the globe. He has previously described his role with 1MDB as informal consulting that didn’t break any laws and 1MDB has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Yeo also faces money-laundering charges, which will be dealt with in a trial scheduled for April.

The criminal case is Public Prosecutor v Yeo Jiawei, Singapore State Courts.

— With assistance by Niluksi Koswanage

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