1MDB pair charged in S’pore

Singapore’s judiciary is delving into the 1MDB scandal. Source: Wikimedia

Singaporean prosecutors have charged two former private bankers with forgery and other criminal charges in relation to the misappropriation of billions of dollars from the Malaysian 1MDB state fund. 

Yak Yew Chee, 57, and Yvonne Seah, 45, were charged in Singapore’s state courts with three counts each of forgery and four counts of failing to report suspicious transactions between 2012 and 2014, while they worked for the Singaporean branch of the Swiss private bank BSI SA.

Yak was the relationship manager for accounts held at BSI by subsidiaries of 1MDB, banking sources said. Seah, also known as Seah Yew Foong, was a senior private banker.

The forgery charge could carries a maximum sentence of up to four years while failing to report a suspicious transaction could carry a fine of up to US$20,000 Singapore dollars (US$14,500).

The authorities in Singapore, Switzerland and at least four other nations are investigating 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded in 2009 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The Swiss authorities say as much as US$6 billion has gone missing from the state fund. The Wall Street Journal reported that much of the cash passed through BSI in Singapore since 2011.

Meanwhile, Malaysia wanted to offer as much assistance and benefit to the public in next year’s budget, while managing the Malaysian economy responsibly, said Najib.

Najib said the authorities needed to be creative in overcoming constraints.

“There are so many things that we need to do but one have to realise that it has to be in the context of our affordability and also that we need to rein in or at least manage our debt and fiscal deficit in a prudent way,” he told the media during his visit to Bangkok.

After attending the Second Asia Cooperation Dialogue, Najib said Malaysia faced low commodity prices across the board and a weak global recovery.

Najib, also finance minister, said measures taken by the developed nations had hurt emerging economies, including Malaysia.

“That is the kind of background that we are facing and these are the factors beyond our control,” the embattled premier said.

He said he would be holding sessions with his ministers to look at their budget requests and assess whether he could afford them.

“My approach to preparing the budget entails looking at the broad macro picture, looking at the financial outlook as well as economic prospects, particularly for 2017 and beyond,” the official Bernama news agency reported.