Singapore investigating large number of transactions in cross-border probe

A Malaysian woman walking past a billboard with the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad logo at the Tun Razak Exchange construction site in Kuala Lumpur.
A Malaysian woman walking past a billboard with the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad logo at the Tun Razak Exchange construction site in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

The Singapore authorities yesterday said they are investigating a large number of complex transactions in a sweeping cross-border probe believed to be linked to the troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

This emerged at a state court hearing yesterday involving Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, who was charged on April 20 with corruptly giving a gratification of $3,000 between 2013 and 2014 to research analyst Lee Chee Waiy to expedite preparation of a favourable valuation report to be issued by his firm.

Ang, 34, the second Singaporean to be charged in connection with the probe, has been in remand since April 20. He is believed to be employed in the finance sector.

Ang is scheduled for a hearing on May 11. The Straits Times understands that he faces the possibility of more charges being brought against him.

The first Singaporean charged was Yeo Jiawei, a former wealth manager at Swiss private bank BSI who was arrested in March and charged on April 15 with an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. Yeo was charged with receiving benefits from criminal conduct, and with cheating and obstructing justice. He is scheduled for a hearing today.

District Judge Christopher Goh yesterday granted the prosecution's application to remand Ang for another week but allowed him "reasonable" access to his lawyer Hamidul Haq, with arrangements to be made by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).

TIME NEEDED

Unravelling, unpacking and comprehensively analysing all the transactions... will continue to take a significant amount of time.

CHIEF PROSECUTOR TAN KEN HWEE, on the "complex and layered transactions".

Chief Prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee said this would be the prosecution's last request for remand for the purpose of investigations. He said investigations so far have confirmed that Ang has had "extensive dealings over more than two years with Yeo, and some others implicated in improper dealings". He called Yeo "a central figure in investigations".

"There are cross-border elements to these complex and layered transactions involving many shell companies. Unravelling, unpacking and comprehensively analysing all the transactions... will continue to take a significant amount of time," Mr Tan said. The authorities are set to "finalise the position in relation to (Ang) within the next six days".

Mr Haq argued against Ang's further remand as his client "is not the subject of the main investigation that CAD is conducting" and allegedly has a "more peripheral" role.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong bank accounts of several unnamed people have been frozen, and they are being probed by the authorities in nations outside Malaysia, such as Singapore, Bloomberg reported.

The Attorney-General's Chambers yesterday declined comment on this matter. The authorities here said in February that they had frozen "a large number" of accounts in connection with possible money laundering related to the probe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore investigating large number of transactions in cross-border probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe