Ex-BSI Banker Seah Convicted of 3 Charges Tied to 1MDB Case

by Andrea Tan and Melissa Cheok
December 16, 2016

Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, a former BSI SA private banker, became the second person to be convicted in Singapore’s probe into alleged money laundering linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Judge Salina Ishak found Seah guilty of three charges in a Singapore state court Friday for aiding in forging documents and failing to report suspicious transactions allegedly related to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. Prosecutors are taking into account four other charges in seeking a two-week jail sentence for Seah, 45, while her lawyer Peter Low asked for a fine.

Imposing a fine for the “well-heeled” like Seah isn’t a sufficient deterrent, prosecutor Nathaniel Khng said in seeking the prison term. Seah’s conduct had harmed Singapore’s reputation, he said.

Seah’s supervisor Yak Yew Chee is serving an 18-week jail term after being convicted November for similar offenses. BSI was ordered in May to shut after authorities found serious anti-money laundering breaches. The Malaysian Low, also known as Jho Low, has been identified by Singapore authorities as a key person of interest in its 1MDB-linked probe and previously described his work with 1MDB as informal consulting work that didn’t break any laws.

Efforts to reach Low haven’t been successful. Both 1MDB and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who formerly chaired 1MDB’s advisory board, have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Both Yak and Seah serviced the accounts of Low, 1MDB and related entities and were among six BSI employees referred to prosecutors by the central bank.

There was no evidence backing Seah’s claim that she found it “practically impossible” to disobey Yak’s instructions, prosecutor Khng said. Both Yak and Seah had worked together for 17 years including at Commerzbank AG, Coutts & Co. and BSI, he said.

The verdict for another former BSI banker, Yeo Jiawei, is scheduled to be delivered Dec. 21. Yeo was charged with obstructing justice by seeking to tamper with witnesses in the probe.

The case is Public Prosecutor v Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, Singapore State Courts.

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