Business

UOB, Credit Suisse fined


Two more banks were hit with fines yesterday as the authorities here wrapped up a wide-ranging money-laundering probe linked to the scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

The fines announced yesterday mean a total of $29.1 million in penalties has been imposed on eight errant banks since the two-year probe of 1MDB-related transactions began.

In what has been described as the most extensive review it has undertaken, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)managing director Ravi Menon noted that the review holds key lessons for both the MAS and financial institutions.

"MAS has... taken unprecedented enforcement actions," he said. "Financial institutions have increased their risk awareness and strengthened controls. Our financial industry is in a better position today."

The review uncovered transactions involving shell companies and individuals operating in the United States, Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Malaysia.

The latest to be hit were United Overseas Bank, fined $900,000, and Switzerland's Credit Suisse Group, which was penalised $700,000 - both for breaches of anti-money laundering requirements and control lapses.

The MAS said it found weaknesses in their customer due diligence methods and inadequate scrutiny of transactions and activities, but it did not detect pervasive control weaknesses.

Swiss financial watchdog FINMA sent Credit Suisse a written reprimand for shortcomings in its anti-money laundering processes.

Fines had earlier been imposed on BSI Bank, Falcon Private Bank, DBS, UBS, Standard Chartered and Coutts. In addition, BSI and Falcon here were shut down last year due to serious failures in anti-money laundering controls and improper conduct by senior management.

Credit Suisse said yesterday that it regretted falling short of the MAS and its own standards. UOB said it accepted the MAS findings and will continue building on its anti-money laundering processes. Both will donate profits arising from the lapses to charities.

The regulator also issued prohibition orders on Monday against three convicted former employees of Falcon Private Bank and BSI Bank.

Lifetime bans, which took effect on Monday, were slapped on former Falcon Singapore branch manager Jens Sturzenegger and ex-BSI banker Yak Yew Chee. A 15-year ban was imposed on ex-BSI banker Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, now known as Seah Mei Ying.

The MAS said it also intends to impose prohibition orders on three others - former Maybank Kim Eng Securities remisier Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, NRA Capital chief executive Kevin Scully and NRA's former head of research, Mr Lee Chee Waiy.
gleong@sph.com.sg


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