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Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

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Monday
Oct102016

Singapore charges two ex BSI bankers in 1MDB case

Authorities in Singapore Monday charged two ex-BSI SA bankers for their role in helping divert money from a Malaysia sovereign wealth fund.

Private banker Yak Yew Chee, 57, was charged with seven criminal counts, including forgery and failing to report suspicious transactions.

Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, 45, who worked at BSI under Yak, faces related charges.

Yak acted as a private banker to Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho and to 1Malaysia Development Berhad or 1MDB.

In July, Singapore seized property and bank accounts worth about $177 million linked to money allegedly diverted from 1MDB.

About $88 million was in accounts controlled by Low Taek Jho, Singapore authorities said.

In May, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) shut down the local operations of Swiss-based BSI Bank. MAS gave prosecutors names of six bankers suspected of possible criminal conduct in connection with the handling of the Malaysian government fund. The six included Yak and Seah.

BSI Bank is a private bank based in Switzerland that maintained a branch in Singapore.

MAS named four other banks in July for anti-money laundering lapses linked to 1MDB. Named were DBS Bank Ltd, and the Singapore branches of Standard Chartered Bank, UBS AG, and Falcon Private Bank Limited.

Evidence from Singapore played a key role in the 144-page civil forfeiture complaint the U.S. Justice Department filed in July against about $1 billion in assets allegedly bought with money looted from 1MDB.

The DOJ complaint described how BSI accounts were used to move some of the $3.5 billion allegedly misappropriated from the Malaysia sovereign wealth fund.

Singapore earlier arrested former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei in the 1MDB case. He was charged with forgery, money laundering, and obstruction. His trial starts October 31.

Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, a former stock trader at Maybank Kim Eng Securities in Singapore, was charged in April with paying a former research analyst for a favorable valuation on 1MDB asset held in the Cayman Islands.

Prosecutors in Singapore Monday charged Yak with forging reference letters and failing to disclose suspicious transactions involving Jho Low.

Seah was charged with helping Yak.

As a senior vice president at BSI, Yak's monthly salary was about $60,000. He left the bank in February.

Yak and Seah are due back in court on November 24. They were granted bail Monday on bond of about $25,000 after surrendering their passports.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.