Falcon Bank's ex-Singapore branch manager gets jail, fine in 1MDB-related case

Jens Sturzenegger pleaded guilty to six counts related to the 1MDB case, on Jan 11, 2017.
Jens Sturzenegger pleaded guilty to six counts related to the 1MDB case, on Jan 11, 2017. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former branch manager of Falcon Private Bank was sentenced to 28 weeks jail and a fine of S$128,000 after he pleaded guilty to six counts including consenting in the bank's failure to comply with Singapore's anti-money laundering rules in relation to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Swiss national Jens Sturzenegger, 42, was charged on Jan 5 with 16 counts including failing to report suspicious transactions tied to inflows of about US$1.265 billion (S$1.81 billion) into two accounts between March 21 and 25, 2013.

The remaining 10 charges were taken into consideration. Prosecution was seeking a sentence of 30-32 weeks imprisonment and fines totalling S$150,000.

Sturzenegger, the first foreigner and the fifth person to be charged in relation to the 1MDB scandal, was also accused of lying to police and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) about his ties to tycoon Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low. Mr Low is accused by the authorities around the world of being at the centre of alleged massive money laundering linked to 1MDB.

It is believed hundreds of millions of dollars have been transferred from accounts at Falcon to Mr Low and his associates as well as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been cleared of wrongdoing by Malaysia's Attorney-General.

 

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Falcon was shut down by regulators here last October, following similar action against BSI in May. Falcon was accused of "a persistent and severe lack of understanding" of MAS' anti-money laundering regulations and fined S$4.3 million here.

MAS said Sturzenegger's "improper conduct... had impaired the effectiveness of the Singapore branch's compliance function in discharging its responsibilities". He was arrested on Oct 5 and has been out on bail of S$80,000.