BSI says Singapore exec linked to 1MDB probe left bank last month

BSI's Singapore office in Suntec City.
BSI's Singapore office in Suntec City. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR • Mr Yak Yew Chee, a BSI Bank Singapore executive whose financial accounts were frozen as part of a probe related to a Malaysian government fund, left the bank in February, according to the firm.

"He is no longer employed by BSI," Ms Valeria Montesoro, a spokesman for the Switzerland-based bank, told Bloomberg in an e-mailed response to queries.

Mr Yak had been a relationship manager for 1MDB Global Investments, a unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose advisory board is headed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The investment fund has been the subject of investigations stretching from the United States to Singapore amid allegations of financial irregularities.

Investigators have been trying to trace whether money might have flowed out of the 1MDB fund and illegally into personal accounts. Datuk Seri Najib and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Singapore's authorities have seized "a large number" of bank accounts in connection with possible money-laundering.

Mr Yak's accounts were frozen by the Singapore authorities in September and he has been questioned as part of the city-state's 1MDB inquiry. He was placed on leave from May to September last year while BSI conducted investigations, according to court papers.

The report on Mr Yak's departure coincides with a separate report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on an investigation in the US on the hiring practises by Goldman Sachs Group, which had helped 1MDB raise capital since 2009.

According to WSJ, Goldman hired the daughter of a close ally of Mr Najib around the time its bankers were pitching business to 1MDB, WSJ said quoting unidentified sources.

Mr Tim Leissner, former chairman of the bank's South-east Asia operations, had allegedly recommended the hiring of Ms Anis Jamaludin, the daughter of the late Jamaludin Jarjis, a senior politician.

Ms Anis worked as a bank analyst in Singapore for three months in 2010, the newspaper said.

Mr Edward Naylor, a spokesman in Hong Kong for Goldman, declined to comment.

Mr Leissner was entangled in a sprawling investigation into 1MDB after the US authorities issued the German national a subpoena about the Malaysian matter late last month, reports said earlier this week. He left Goldman last month and has not been available to comment. WSJ could not reach Ms Anis for comment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'BSI says S'pore exec linked to 1MDB probe left bank last month'. Print Edition | Subscribe