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Malaysia 1MDB scandal

Two more Singapore private bankers charged in 1MDB saga

Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah were both hit with seven charges – three for forgery and four for failing to report suspicious transactions, court documents showed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 7:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 October, 2016, 10:44pm

Singapore on Monday charged two more former private bankers with forgery and failing to report suspicious transactions in cases linked to a major money-laundering scandal involving Malaysian state fund 1MDB.

Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah were both hit with seven charges – three for forgery and four for failing to report suspicious transactions, court documents showed.

Both Yak and Seah worked for Swiss private bank BSI, which was kicked out of Singapore in May over “gross misconduct” linked to 1MDB.

Singapore, a regional financial hub, launched a probe into fund flows linked to 1MDB in 2015 and in June this year said they had seized nearly US$180 million in assets.

Half of these assets were linked to Low Taek Jho – known as Jho Low – a jet-setting Malaysian financier who helped set up 1MDB and played a key role in its financial decisions.

The 57-year-old Yak had worked as a private banker for Low, his lawyer said.

According to the charge sheets, Yak is accused of forging three reference letters to Swiss banks and funds, and of failing to report suspicious money transfers involving accounts belonging to Low.

In the reference letters, which were dated February 2014, Yak said the Low family was worth US$1.63 billion.

Seah, 45, is accused of helping Yak.

Low is a family friend of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who founded 1MDB and has been embroiled in the scandal. Both men have strongly denied wrongdoing.

Yak and Seah each posted S$35,000 bail (US$25,500) and are due back in court on November 22. Both have now left BSI.

Singapore has also charged another ex-BSI banker Yeo Jiawei and another man with various offences. Several other people are being questioned.

Switzerland and the United States are also investigating 1MDB.

The US Justice Department is attempting to seize more than US$1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds related to the state investment fund 1MDB.

Yeo Jiawei, who currently faces a total of 11 charges for various offences, was the first BSI Singapore employee named by MAS to be charged in court for criminal offences. His court case is still pending.

Additional reporting by Kyodo