Singapore banker handed new convictions in 1MDB-linked case

Singapore (AFP) - A Singapore court Wednesday convicted a jailed banker of additional offences in a case linked to the international money-laundering scandal involving neighbouring Malaysia's state fund 1MDB.

Singaporean Yeo Jiawei, a former wealth manager with Swiss bank BSI, was sentenced to 54 months after admitting charges of money-laundering and cheating.

The jail term will run concurrently with a 30-month sentence for trying to tamper with witnesses involved in the probe into the scandal, which was handed down last year.

Allegations that huge sums were misappropriated from 1MDB through money-laundering triggered a corruption scandal that has embroiled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who founded the fund. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Yeo is one of several bankers in Singapore jailed over the affair. Court documents show he worked closely with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, who helped set up 1MDB. Low has also denied wrongdoing.

Passing sentence Wednesday, judge Ong Hian Sun said Yeo had taken "considerable effort" to conceal his criminal wrongdoing and had exploited his position for personal gain.

He added that the courts must take an "uncompromising stance" to protect the integrity of Singapore's financial system.

The convictions related to Yeo's time at BSI. While there, he was involved in a series of elaborate cross-border transactions involving shell companies and bank accounts belonging to his parents, court documents showed.

Yeo and a colleague made $466,000 in profit by syphoning off commission that was meant to go to BSI for facilitating the transactions, which were linked to 1MDB and its associated projects.

In mitigation, Yeo's defence lawyer Derek Kang said his client would never work again in the finance industry and that he would give up profits made from the offences.

The scandal has been described by prosecutors as the "largest ever money-laundering case" investigated by Singapore's white-collar crime unit.

The city-state's financial regulator said in March that it has barred seven bankers linked to the case, several of whom had been convicted of various offences involving 1MDB.

The United States and Switzerland have also launched investigations into the 1MDB fund but only Singapore handed down any convictions so far.

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