MAS to shut down BSI Bank in Singapore for alleged money laundering; 6 staff to be probed

The front office of Swiss private bank BSI located at Suntec City. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) served BSI Bank, embroiled in the probe into Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), notice of intention to withdraw its status as a merchant bank in Singapore.

This is for serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank's operations, and gross misconduct by some of the bank's staff, MAS said in a statement on Tuesday (May 24).

MAS has also served BSI Bank notice to impose financial penalties amounting to S$13.3 million for 41 breaches of MAS Notice 1014 - Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.

The breaches include failure to perform enhanced customer due diligence on high risk accounts, and to monitor for suspicious customer transactions on an ongoing basis.

In addition, MAS has referred to the Public Prosecutor the names of six members of BSI Bank's senior management and staff to evaluate whether they have committed criminal offences.

They are:

- Mr Hans Peter Brunner, former CEO

- Mr Raj Sriram, former deputy CEO

- Mr Kevin Michael Swampillai, head of wealth management services

- Mr Yak Yew Chee, former senior private banker

- Mr Yeo Jiawei, former wealth planner; and

- Ms Seah Yew Foong Yvonne, former senior private banker

Separately, the Public Prosecutor has received the MAS findings arising from its inspection of BSI Bank, Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said in a separate statement on Tuesday (May 24).

These findings indicate that there has been serious misconduct by some members of the senior management and staff of BSI Singapore. To date, seven charges have been brought against Yeo Jia Wei.

Further charges against him will be tendered in due course, the AGC said in a statement.

As the five other individuals are concerned, the AGC will be working with the Commercial Affairs Department to review the facts before assessing the next appropriate course of action.

BSI Bank has been operating as a merchant bank in Singapore since November 2005 where it offers private banking services. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BSI SA, a bank founded in 1873 and headquartered in Switzerland.

BSI, the Swiss bank embroiled in global probes into 1MDB, is said to be investigating employees and their dealings related to the embattled Malaysian state investment fund, according to people familiar with the matter.

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