Former BSI Singapore wealth planner Yeo receives the stiffest sentence out of the five 1MDB-related convictions in Singapore so far.
- Already serving 30-month sentence
- Agreed to help with Singapore’s 1MDB probe
- Close ties with Jho Low, calling him “boss”, staying at his house, flying in his private jet
- Accumulated net worth of more than S$20m (RM52m) in 15 months through “secret profits”
- Surrendering profits made from offences
- End of career in finance industry
Yeo Jiawei, 34, admitted today to one charge of money laundering and another charge of cheating his former employer, with eight other charges taken into consideration.
The former banker is already serving a 30-month jail sentence meted out in December after being convicted on four charges of witnesses tampering – the longest prison term in Singapore’s investigations into 1MDB.
He is to serve his sentence immediately, with today’s sentence handed down by a Singapore state court and the previous sentence to run concurrently.
Yeo has agreed to assist with Singapore’s money-laundering investigation, which prosecutors described as the largest in the country’s history.
Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun said that the courts must take an “uncompromising stance” to protect the integrity of Singapore’s financial system.
Yeo’s admission of guilt came after the Monetary Authority of Singapore concluded a two-year probe into flows related to 1MDB.
The Malaysian fund, at the heart of several money laundering and corruption investigations across the globe, has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors had described Yeo as a central figure connected to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, who was identified by Singapore police as a “key person of interest” in their investigation.
Low had previously described his role with 1MDB as informal consulting that didn’t break any laws.
However, Low has also been characterised by US investigators as the controller of a plot to siphon billions from 1MDB.
Yeo had reportedly tried to get his colleagues and business associates to “hold hands” as investigators were closing in on their ring. He had urged three witnesses to lie to investigators and destroy evidence that would incriminate him.
Yeo had enjoyed close ties with Low, referring to him as “boss”. He had stayed at least one night at Low’s house and flew at least three times on his private jet.
In the 15 months after he left BSI in June 2014, Yeo accumulated a net worth of more than S$20 million (RM62 million) through “secret profits”.
Blomberg reported that Singapore prosecutors said Low used money traceable to 1MDB for his own benefit.
Low received “huge” sums of money, the prosecutors said in court filings made public. About $1 billion that 1MDB was purported to invest in a joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd was diverted to a bank account beneficially owned by Low, according to the filings.
“The main victim in this case is 1MDB,” prosecutor Nathaniel Khng said. “Jho Low has gone missing from the public eye.”
Yeo is the third BSI banker found guilty by Singapore in the 1MDB investigations.
Last November, Yak Yew Che was fined and sentenced to 18 weeks in jail for forgery and failing to disclose suspicious transactions related to Low.
Another banker, Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, was sentenced to two weeks in prison for similar offences.
According to Bloomberg, both did not file appeals.
Yeo had earlier filed an appeal against his conviction and sentencing, with the appeal hearing scheduled for Aug 5, according to The Edge Markets.
It is unclear if the appeal will continue, following today’s sentencing.
On Jan 11, Swiss banker Jens Fred Sturzenegger was fined S$128,000 and jailed for seven months for money laundering and other offences related to 1MDB.
The 42-year-old former head of the Singapore branch of Switzerland’s Falcon Private Bank pleaded guilty to the charges, making him the first foreigner linked to the 1MDB scandal convicted in Singapore.
On May 24, Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, a former remisier with Maybank Kim Eng, became the fifth person convicted in Singapore involving 1MDB offences. The 35-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of corruption and was fined S$9,000. During sentencing, the judge took into account the three weeks’ remand Ang served last year.
Singapore has also imposed a total of S$29.1 million (RM90.5 million) in penalties on eight banks as part of its 1MDB probes.
Credit Suisse Group AG and United Overseas Bank Ltd were among the firms that paid penalties, while BSI and Falcon Private Bank Ltd were also ordered to shut their Singapore operations.
Singapore authorities also seized nearly US$180 million (RM770 million) in assets. Half of the assets were linked to Jho Low.
Singapore is the first and only country to date out of at least 10 jurisdictions – including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the UK and the US Department of Justice – involved in the 1MDB probe, that has convicted several facilitators of the scandal.
Yeo’s lawyer Derek Kang said today that his client, who came from a humble background, had “no chance” of working again in the finance industry.
He added that Yeo will give up the profits he made from the offences.
Singapore’s 1MDB scandal body count:
- November 2016 – Yak Yew Che, ex-BSI banker, fined and jailed 18 weeks
- Dec 16 – Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, ex-BSI banker, jailed two weeks
- Dec 22 – Yeo Jiawei, ex-BSI banker, jailed 30 months
- Jan 11 – Jens Fred Sturzenegger, ex-Swiss banker, fined and jailed seven months
- May 24 – Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, ex-remisier, remanded three weeks, fined S$9,000