Singapore

1MDB scandal: Ex-banker convicted of witness tampering

Third person in Singapore's 1MDB probe convicted

Former banker Yeo Jiawei was convicted yesterday on all four charges of witness tampering in the case involving billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Yeo, 33, the third person in Singapore's 1MDB probe to be convicted, will be in court next year to face seven other charges involving cheating, money laundering and forgery, will be sentenced today.

The Straits Times understands that due to the scale of the investigation and the nature of the offence, the prosecution will likely ask for a sentence that is beyond the norm.

For each charge of tampering with witnesses, Yeo faces up to seven years in jail and a fine.

Judge Ng said in an oral decision: "The accused denied attempting to intentionally pervert the course of justice.

"He claimed the person who concocted the plan to lie to the CAD (Commercial Affairs Department) is Kevin Swampillai (his former supervisor at BSI).

"Having evaluated conflicting versions of evidence... I found the accused to be unreliable and not a credible witness.

"I disbelieved the evidence of the accused. He failed to raise reasonable doubts in the prosecution's case."

In his trial, Yeo repeatedly downplayed his close ties to Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, who is under investigation here and elsewhere over money laundering claims linked to 1MDB.

'UNBELIEVABLE'

But prosecutors found it "unbelievable" he managed to amass $23.9 million so quickly by acting as an "introducer, intermediary, independent consultant or relationship manager".

Yeo had been hired in December 2009 by Swiss-based BSI as a wealth planner.

His net worth was $2 million at the time he left in July 2014, but swelled to $26 million by last year, they said.

The court found that after Yeo's release on police bail, he had arranged a meeting in March with his associate, Mr Samuel Goh Sze-Wei, and Mr Swampillai, then BSI's head of wealth management services.

Yeo told them to lie to the police that the funds Mr Goh had transferred to companies owned by Yeo and Mr Swampillai were his investments. He also told the latter to "stick to the story" discussed earlier and "play poker" with CAD.

After he left BSI, Yeo continued with illicit transactions linked to the case.

Some were allegedly conducted through legal and corporate services provider Amicorp Group.

Yeo was concerned Amicorp employees Jose Renato Carvalho Pinto and Mun Enci Aloysius, who had received instructions from him in relation to these transactions, would be interviewed by CAD.

He told Mr Carvalho to dispose of his laptop, and to "not travel to Singapore to avoid being interviewed" by the CAD.

Yeo also abetted him to tell Mr Aloysius to lie about not knowing of Yeo's dealings with Amicorp if questioned by CAD.

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