1MDB probe: Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei gets 54 months' jail for money laundering, cheating

Former BSI Singapore wealth planner Yeo Jiawei was found guilty in a Singapore court on Wednesday of money laundering and cheating. PHOTO: COURT DOCUMENTS

SINGAPORE - Former BSI Singapore wealth planner Yeo Jiawei was sentenced to 54 months in jail in a Singapore court on Wednesday (July 12) for money laundering and cheating in relation to a massive global probe involving billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Yeo, 34, plead guilty and was convicted on one charge each of money laundering and cheating, with eight other charges taken into consideration.

The sentence, which Yeo began serving immediately, will run concurrently with the remainder of an earlier 30-month jail sentence he was slapped with in December last year for witness tampering.

He is the third former BSI banker to be found guilty in the city's 1MDB investigations.

The Singaporean had been employed by Swiss-based BSI between December 2009 and July 2014. He allegedly amassed S$26 million from various sources, including illicit schemes to defraud BSI while he was an employee.

The still unfolding case involving 1MDB's billions is deemed one of the world's largest money laundering scandals in history. It required the unravelling of, as described by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, a "complex web of transactions involving numerous shell companies and individuals operating in multiple jurisdictions, including the United States, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Malaysia".

Yeo has repeatedly downplayed his close ties to elusive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who is also under investigation in Singapore and elsewhere over money-laundering claims linked to 1MDB.

Senior banker Yak Yew Chee was sentenced in November to an 18-week jail term and fined for forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions allegedly related to Jho Low. Another banker, Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, was jailed for two weeks and fined on Dec 16 last year for similar offenses.

The highest fine of S$128,000 was meted out to Falcon Bank's ex-manager Jens Sturzenegger who was sentenced to 28 weeks' jail.

Singapore is the first and only country to date out of at least 10 jurisdictions involved in the probe, that has convicted several facilitators of this scandal.

Four other individuals, including Goldman Sachs' ex-star banker Tim Leissner, who used to be based in Singapore, have been banned from the city state's capital markets for periods ranging from 10 years to a lifetime. Three others have been notified by MAS of its intention to issue Prohibition Orders (POs) against them, ranging from three to six years.

So far, MAS's two year probe into the involvement of financial institutions implicated in the 1MDB money flows have resulted in two private banks losing their licenses here, given serious lapses in their anti-money laundering controls, and eight banks fined a total of S$29.1 million.

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