1MDB case: Ex-BSI banker gets 54 months’ jail time for money laundering and cheating

SINGAPORE, July 12 (Reuters) – A Singapore court jailed a former wealth manager of Swiss bank BSI for four-and-a-half years on Wednesday for money laundering and cheating in a case linked to an investigation involving the Malaysian fund 1MDB.

The former banker, Yeo Jiawei, is serving a 30-month term on charges of perverting the course of justice by urging witnesses to lie to police and destroy evidence during the investigation into illicitly transferred funds linked to Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Yeo, 34, who denied perverting the course justice last year, pleaded guilty to money laundering and cheating on Wednesday (July 12).

“The two schemes to secretly profit were dishonestly concealed from BSI Singapore … and resulted in the accused earning in excess of US$3.5 million in illicit profits,” the public prosecutor said.

Prosecutors also allege that Yeo played a central role in the illicit movement of S$23.9 million ($17.3 million) of 1MDB-linked funds both while he was working at the now defunct BSI Bank Singapore, and afterwards.

Singapore’s central bank announced in May that it has ended its review of banks with 1MDB-linked transactions.

As part of its two-year review, Singapore shut down the local units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank due to failures of money laundering controls and improper conduct by senior management, froze millions of dollars in bank accounts and charged several private bankers.

A spokesman for BSI was not immediately available for comment on Yeo’s sentencing.

Stefano Coduri, group chief executive of BSI bank stepped down after the closure of its Singapore operations last year and the bank said it had undertaken steps to strengthen management, including introducing a new chief risk officer and appointing a new group legal counsel.

Two other former BSI staffers have been convicted and sentenced on charges stemming from the money-laundering investigation linked to 1MDB.

Founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who previously chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is the subject of money laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said Malaysia will cooperate with the international investigations. ($1 = 1.3799 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Anshuman Daga, Robert Birsel)