Large number of bank accounts seized in S'pore in connection with 1MDB probe: MAS, CAD

A 1MDB billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A 1MDB billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore said on Monday (Feb 1) it has seized a large number of bank accounts in connection with possible money-laundering offences related to investigations into alleged financial mismanagement at Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In response to media queries, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a joint statement Monday evening that "Singapore does not tolerate the use of its financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds", adding that the investigations have been ongoing since the middle of last year.

"In connection with these investigations, we have sought and are continuing to seek information from several financial institutions, are interviewing various individuals, and have seized a large number of bank accounts."

The announcement comes on the back of news last week that Switzerland's chief prosecutor had said a criminal investigation into 1MDB had revealed that about US$4 billion (S$5.69 billion) appeared to have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies.

 

1MDB is a state-owned fund formed in 2009 to invest in property, infrastructure and energy projects. Its advisory board is chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been investigated by Malaysian authorities following accusations of financial mismanagement and graft. 1MDB has denied these allegations.

 

The Prime Minister has just been cleared by Malaysia's Attorney-General of graft claims concerning US$700 million deposited into his bank accounts via companies linked to 1MDB.

 

Singapore authorities on Monday said they are cooperating with authorities in Malaysia, Switzerland and the United States on the investigation.

 

"We have responded to all foreign requests for information and have requested for information from relevant counterparts to aid in our investigations. As investigations are still on-going, we are not able to provide more details at this stage," CAD and MAS said in the joint statement.

Last Saturday, the Swiss Attorney-General's Office (OAG) said some of the US$4 billion was transferred to Swiss bank accounts held by former public officials from Malaysia as well as past and present public officials from the United Arab Emirates.

The authorities had said it would soon hand over "significant evidence" of illegal financial transactions involving Malaysian companies to its Kuala Lumpur counterparts.

"We have found evidence of suspicious money transfers linked to 1MDB going through Swiss financial institutions, and we believe that it is very important that it is shared with the Malaysian authorities," the statement had said.