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Ex-BSI wealth planner’s 1MBD trial starts in Singapore

A former BSI Bank wealth planner went on trial in Singapore on Monday for attempting to pervert the course of justice as part of the investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) money laundering scandal.

Yeo Jaiwei is the first person to be tried for his supposed involvement in Malaysia’s beleaguered development fund.

The prosecutor described the case as “the most complex, sophisticated, and largest money-laundering case” ever handled by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Division (CAD) involving the movement of “staggering amounts of monies across jurisdictions over the course of several years”, The Straits Times reported.

Yeo faces four charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and faces a prison sentence, fine, or both for each offence.

Seven further charges of cheating, money laundering, and forgery will be prosecuted at a later date.  

Illicit schemes

Yeo was employed as a wealth planner at BSI Singapore between December 2009 and July 2014. The prosecutor said that during that time he amassed a wealth of about S$26m (£15.3m, $18.7m, €17m) through schemes to defraud BSI and others.

During and after his employment, Yeo is accused of playing a key role in facilitating and concealing the laundering of large sums of money, the prosecutor told the court.  

According to local newspaper Channel News Asia, Yeo and his supervisor Kevin Swampillai were involved in transactions that siphoned fees from BSI into two companies beneficially owned by Ywo and Swampillai, Bridgerock Investment and GTB Investment respectively.

Commercial Affairs Division

Both Bridgerock and GTB were subject to a CAD investigation in March 2016.

Yeo was first interviewed by CAD in October 2015 and arrested in March 2016. He was bailed under the conditions that he not commit any crimes or interfere with the ongoing investigation.

The prosecutor told the court on Monday: “In a display of complete and wanton disregard for the law and CAD’s investigations, [Yeo] met and contacted key witnesses in the hope of suppressing incriminatory evidence pertaining to his own illicit schemes and activities.”

The prosecutor asserted that Yeo, Swampillai, and an associate of Yeo’s named Samuel Goh Sze-Wei met to discuss the investigation at which time Yeo told them to lie that the funds transferred by Goh to Bridgerock and GTB were Goh’s own investments.

The case is scheduled to run for nine days with the prosecution calling nine witnesses.

BSI Singapore shut down

Yeo was one of six BSI Singapore employees referred to the public prosecutor in May 2016 following what was described by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as the “worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct seen in the Singapore financial sector”.

Also referred to the public prosecutor were former chief executive Hans Peter Brunner and former deputy chief executive Ray Sriram. 

Yak Yew Chee, a senior vice president at BSI Singapore who handled the bank’s relationship with 1MDB, has been charged with forgery and failure to disclose suspicious transactions. Similar charges were filed by against Yvonne Seah, a former director at the bank.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.