Ex-BSI man slapped with more witness-tampering charges

Former banker now faces 11 counts linked to 1MDB scandal

A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard.
A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard.PHOTO: REUTERS

Two more witness-tampering charges were levelled at former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, who is alleged to have played a key role in a money-laundering operation linked to scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.

The new counts bring the total number of obstruction-of-justice charges against him to four. Trial dates for the four charges are set for Oct 31 to Nov 11 (except Nov 4).

Yeo, 33, is accused of facilitating illicit transactions involving 1MDB that led to the shutdown of Swiss private bank BSI's operations here. The two new charges means he now faces 11 counts, ranging from money laundering and cheating to forgery and obstruction of justice.

He was charged yesterday with "intentionally perverting the course of justice" in March when he told Pinto Jose Renato Carvalho to dispose of his laptop, which would likely contain evidence of Yeo's dealings with Amicorp Group. Amicorp provides assurance, administrative, legal, corporate secretarial and support services.

Yeo also allegedly told Mr Carvalho "not to travel to Singapore to avoid being interviewed" by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD). In addition, Yeo was charged with "abetting" and instigating Mr Carvalho in March to tell a Mun Enci Aloysius to give false information if he was questioned by the CAD.

Amicorp chief operating officer Kiran Kumar told The Straits Times yesterday he was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Amicorp Fund Services, part of Amicorp Group, is one of several fund managers that allegedly managed 1MDB-related funds.

Accounting giant Deloitte, the auditor that signed off some accounts of 1MDB, told Malaysia's Public Accounts Committee in hearings in April that 1MDB had placed US$1.57 billion (S$2.1 billion) with BSI in Switzerland, the Edge Singapore had reported. The money was subsequently invested in funds managed by firms that included Amicorp Fund Services.

Singapore prosecutors asked the High Court in May to give early trial dates for Yeo's witness-tampering charges. Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck cited evidence that Yeo had tampered with at least five witnesses on at least five occasions, including asking one to destroy evidence.

It was also alleged in March that Yeo had asked his manager Kevin Swampillai to falsely inform police that money transferred to Bridgerock Investment, a firm controlled by Yeo, belonged to someone else.

Yeo has been in custody since April 16. He was denied bail yesterday. A criminal case disclosure conference on his case is set for Sept 8.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-BSI man slapped with more witness-tampering charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe