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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ex-BSI banker involved in 1MDB probe faces 3 more charges

Former wealth planner at the Singapore unit of BSI, Yeo Jiawei, faces charges of cheating, attempting to intentionally pervert the course of justice and money laundering to add on to three other charges levelled at him previously.

SINGAPORE: A former private banker involved in a probe into Malaysia's troubled state investment fund 1MDB, Yeo Jiawei, received three additional charges on Thursday (May 5), making it six in total.

The three new charges include one count each for cheating, attempting to pervert the course of justice and money laundering, according to court documents. He was initially charged with money laundering on Apr 22, before two more charges were levelled against him on Apr 28.

Yeo allegedly cheated his employer, BSI Singapore, by hiding the fact that he would receive a portion of the fees paid to Pacific Harbor Holdings via Bridgerock Investment, a company Yeo that owns. BSI entered into an agreement with Pacific Harbor on Mar 25, 2013.


Yeo was also charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. He allegedly asked Mr Kevin Swampillai to lie to the police about a sum of money Mr Samuel Goh Sze-Wei had transferred to Bridgerock Investment Inc and GTB Investment.

Yeo had told Mr Swampillai to falsely declare that the money represented Mr Goh’s investments, court documents stated.

According to Bloomberg, Mr Swampillai, the managing director of wealth management services at BSI, had left the Swiss bank, although he declined to confirm this when contacted.

Additionally, Yeo allegedly transferred US$500,000 from a Malayan Banking Berhad account in the name of Bridgerock Investment Inc to an Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) account. This amount “represents (Yeo’s) benefits from criminal conduct”, court documents said.

The prosecution, led by Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck, successfully appealed to the court to allow further remand of Yeo, citing ongoing complex and multi-jurisdictional investigations into a multitude of illicit transactions Yeo had a hand.

"The accused (Yeo) has received secret profits of about US$4 million from Bridgerock Investment Inc when he was in BSI. It is believed that the total amount that he has received from illicit transactions, are well in excess of this amount," said Mr Kwek.

"Not unlike his principals, he has also taken extraordinary steps to cover his involvement and to also disguise the flows of illicit monies to himself and his family members," he added.


The prosecution also charged that Yeo has no qualms about tampering with witnesses, pointing to the fact that Yeo now faces two counts for attempting to pervert the course of justice for asking witnesses to lie to the police.

There is a “continuing risk” that Yeo may tamper with more witnesses, Mr Kwek said, adding that the prosecution has grounds to believe Yeo’s wife has made contact with other witnesses “for reasons that may need further probing”.

Mr Kwek said the prosecution would not object to Yeo’s request for legal counsel. However, he added that investigators suspect “significant sums of money - S$200,000 and US$200,000" - transferred on behalf of Yeo to his lawyer Philip Fong's firm, Harry Elias Partnership, "likely constitute proceedings linked to criminal conduct”.

Mr Fong called the prosecution’s allegations “bare assertions”, saying he needed access to Yeo to clarify this.

The defence lawyer also unsuccessfully campaigned for Yeo, who has been remanded for about 21 days, to be let out on bail.

Mr Fong said other current and former BSI employees under investigation could be called on by investigators to explain the multitude of complex transactions. “(Yeo) is not the only person who can assist,” he told the court.

Mr Kwek argued that further evidence was likely to be obtained with Yeo in remand, pointing to the three additional charges on Thursday as proof this could be the case. "Investigations into this matter have proceeded as expeditiously as possible. As a matter of principle, the prosecution will not seek remand for any longer, than what is absolutely necessary to facilitate investigations," he said.

The District Judge granted Yeo access to his counsel but ordered that he be remanded another week. Yeo will next appear in court on May 12.

- CNA/kk

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