SINGAPORE – Former BSI Singapore wealth planner Yeo Jiawei was sentenced to 54 months in jail in a Singapore court on Wednesday (July 12) for money laundering and cheating in relation to a massive global probe involving billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.
The 54-month sentence is the longest meted out to date by a Singapore court on 1MDB-related charges.
Yeo, 34, pleaded guilty and was convicted on one charge each of money laundering and cheating, with eight other charges taken into consideration.
The sentence, which Yeo began serving immediately, will run concurrently with an earlier 30-month jail sentence he began serving in December last year for witness tampering.
Another banker, Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, was jailed for two weeks and fined on Dec 16 last year for similar offences.
Singapore is the first and only country to date out of at least 10 jurisdictions involved in the probe that has convicted several facilitators of the money laundering. .
Four other individuals, including Goldman Sachs’ ex-star banker Tim Leissner, who used to be based in Singapore, have been banned from the city state’s capital markets for periods ranging from 10 years to a lifetime. Three others have been notified by MAS of its intention to issue Prohibition Orders (POs) against them, ranging from three to six years.
The two-year probe by MAS into the involvement of financial institutions implicated in the 1MDB money flows has resulted in two private banks losing their licenses here over serious lapses in their anti-money laundering controls and eight banks being fined a total of S$29.1 million.
Yeo, a Singaporean, had been employed by Swiss-based BSI between December 2009 and July 2014. He allegedly amassed S$26 million from various sources, including illicit schemes to defraud BSI while he was an employee.
The still unfolding case involving 1MDB’s billions is deemed one of the world’s largest money laundering scandals in history. It required the unravelling of, as described by MAS, a “complex web of transactions involving numerous shell companies and individuals operating in multiple jurisdictions, including the United States, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Malaysia”.
Yeo had repeatedly downplayed his close ties to Jho Low, who is also under investigation in Singapore and elsewhere over money-laundering claims linked to 1MDB.