1MDB saga: Singapore seizes bank accounts over possible money-laundering and other offences

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

S'pore authorities say they have been probing possible offences since mid-2015

SINGAPORE - The authorities in Singapore have seized a "large number" of bank accounts over possible money-laundering and other offences linked to alleged financial mismanagement at Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) stated last night that they have been investigating possible offences since the middle of last year.

"Singapore does not tolerate the use of its financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds," they said in a joint statement.

 
 
 

"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 e-mail statement, in response to media queries on 1MDB, comes just days after the Swiss authorities called on Malaysia to continue its investigation into the 1MDB fund.

The CAD and MAS did not elaborate on whether the bank accounts seized were linked to those in the Swiss 1MDB probe.

The Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland (OAG) said last week about US$4 billion (S$5.7 billion) may have been stolen from Malaysian state-owned companies.

It said yesterday it would soon hand over "significant evidence" of illegal financial transactions involving Malaysian companies to its Kuala Lumpur counterparts, Malaysian media reported.

"The OAG is hopeful that our colleagues in Malaysia will examine the evidence... and provide us with further assistance, as the two attorneys-general agreed last September," its head of information, Mr Andre Marty, said in an e-mail, according to the Malaysian Insider news site.

The CAD and MAS statement said Singapore is working closely with the relevant authorities, including those in Malaysia, Switzerland and the United States.

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

Last July, Singapore police said they had issued orders to freeze two Singapore bank accounts for possible money-laundering offences in relation to the 1MDB probe.

In a statement issued late last night, 1MDB reiterated that it remained committed to "fully cooperating with any lawful authority and investigation, subject to advice from the relevant domestic lawful authorities, and in accordance with international protocols governing such matters".

The firm also reiterated that it had not been contacted by any foreign legal authorities on any matters relating to the company.


Read more stories on the 1MDB saga here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline '1MDB saga: Singapore seizes bank accounts'. Print Edition | Subscribe