Ex-BSI banker trial: Yeo Jiawei 'urged colleagues to lie to police'

ST ILLUSTRATION: CHNG CHOON HIONG

He sought to come up with story explaining certain fund flows linked to 1MDB: Witness

Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei did urge colleagues to lie to the police about certain fund flows linked to embattled Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a court heard yesterday.

The claim came from Mr Samuel Goh Sze-Wei, 41, formerly the head of agency distribution at NTUC Income, but who is now unemployed.

He told the court on day four of the trial that he "reluctantly" met Yeo and Yeo's former BSI supervisor, Mr Kevin Swampillai, after 9pm on March 27 at the Swiss Club, where Mr Swampillai was a member.

"Mr Yeo said it was time that we meet to hold hands and come up with a story explaining... the whole schematics of how the monies received by Bridge Global Managers were actually my monies," Mr Goh testified.

"Mr Yeo remarked that we should hold hands; this is the story that we need to - if we go through this, we'll live together. If we die, we die together."

 
 
 

Yeo's lawyer, Mr Philip Fong of Harry Elias Partnership, put it to Mr Goh that Mr Swampillai had started the conversation at the Swiss Club, but Mr Goh disagreed.

In 2012, Yeo allegedly asked Mr Goh to be an intermediary to facilitate payments from a 1MDB- linked shell company to entities controlled by Yeo and Mr Swampillai, via another shell company, Bridge Global Managers.

Yeo faces four counts of perverting the course of justice for allegedly urging witnesses to lie to the police while out on bail after being arrested on March 17 in connection with money laundering.

Charges of money laundering, cheating and forgery will be dealt with in a separate trial next year.

Under cross-examination yesterday, Mr Goh described his relationship with Yeo as "friends - but it's not like I know his family very well or we go swimming together".

He said he would have meetings with Yeo between 2012 and 2014, "whenever Mr Yeo called for them". These were usually held "quite late after work", in settings such as the "Hans restaurant or prata place near his (Yeo's) place of residence".

Mr Fong asked Mr Goh to recall when Yeo sought the witness' assistance to set up a fund for Aabar Investments PJS Limited in 2014.

Mr Goh said he knew the client as Aabar but was not familiar with the full name, Aabar Investments PJS Limited.

This name is shared by another entity - named in a complaint filed by the United States Department of Justice in July - to which 1MDB said it sent US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion).

In April, Abu Dhabi's state fund denied any connection with this entity, which has a near-identical name to one of its own units, Aabar Investments PJS.

Mr Goh will take the stand again next Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Former BSI man 'urged colleagues to lie to police''. Print Edition | Subscribe