Posted inRegulation

Jailed 1MDB scandal banker ‘spent $8.2m’ on Australia property

The former BSI banker Yeo Jaiwei, ‘sentenced beyond the norm’ for witness tampering by a Singapore court, used a Seychelles-based company to spend $8.2m on Australian Gold Coast property, the Guardian has reported.

Yeo, who went to jail for 30 weeks in December as part of investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) money laundering scandal, made all the purchases over a one-year period starting with a $1.3m oceanfront apartment in Surfers Paradise.

In its investigation, the Guardian Australia edition revealed that Yeo was a director of a Seychelles-registered company that then paid a further $6.9m for commercial properties in Broadbeach precinct, a year later.

Australian federal police are reportedly examining whether money illegally taken from 1MDB fund has been placed in the area.

Property records in Australia showed that Yeo paid $1.3m in October 2014 for a fifth-floor apartment in the Soul building, which overlooks Main Beach at Surfers Paradise.

Seychelles-registered company

Two months later a Seychelles-registered company called Connect Capital Global Investments Limited, of which Yeo is a director, obtained an Australian business number. It also registered to pay goods and services tax, indicating a predicted annual income of $75,000 or more.

Connect Capital is based in the Seychelles, where it was registered with the help of Offshore Incorporations, a rival of Mossack Fonseca, the company at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal, the Guardian report added.

In September 2015 Connect Capital registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as a foreign company, lodging documents showing its local agent is Australian Taxation Accountants in Surfers Paradise, which provides its registered office.

The next month Connect Capital paid $2.4m for four retail premises, now housing pizza and seafood restaurants, in the ground floor of a building in Broadbeach.

In December 2015 the company paid almost $3.4m for a further two retail premises in Broadbeach, rented out to Italian and Brazilian restaurants.

Connect Capital later paid just over $1m for a neighbouring shopfront in the same building, leased to a doughnut business which pays more than $63,000 in rent a year.

Money-laundering charges

Money-laundering charges against Yeo, which he denies, are due to be heard in Singapore in April.

In January, the first westerner to be charged in connection with the 1MDB scandal was been sentenced to 28 weeks in jail and fined S$128,000 by a Singapore court.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.