Singapore freezes 1MDB-related bank accounts

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MASShortly after Swiss authorities said they have reason to believe that $4 billion in funds related to Malaysia’s state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, have apparently been misappropriated, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the city state’s Commercial Affairs Department announced they seized a “large number” of bank accounts following a probe into 1MDB.

In a February 1 statement, the authorities said that “Singapore does not tolerate the use of its financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds. [We] have been actively investigating possible money-laundering and other offenses carried out in Singapore. In connection with these investigations, we have sought and are continuing to seek information from several financial institutions, are interviewing various individuals, and have seized a large number of bank accounts.”

Last year, Singapore already had frozen at least two bank accounts of individuals believed to be linked to 1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. However 1MDB said in September 2015 that none of its bank accounts had been frozen by either Swiss or Singapore authorities.

One of the accounts is at the Singapore branch of Swiss private bank BSI SA and reportedly held Yak Yew Chee, a senior private banker at BSI.

In response to the latest announcement from Singapore, 1MDB immediately issued a statement saying it has “not been contacted by any foreign legal authorities on any matters relating to the company.”

“1MDB remains committed to fully cooperating with any lawful authority and investigation, subject to advice from the relevant domestic lawful authorities, and in accordance with international protocols governing such matters,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that several Malaysian state investment funds have turned to sell various London properties they own and repatriate the money in a sign of the country’s increasing financial woes.

The funds are the Malaysian state Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Kwap) pension fund (another public retirement fund), and Lembaga Tabung Haji, the government fund for Muslim pilgrims. They sold property such as 88 Wood Street, an 18-storey City of London office building, One Sheldon Square in Paddington, an office building at 151 Buckingham Palace Road and a prominent office building at 66 Fleet Street.

Kwap and EPF had exposure between them of almost $700 million to 1MDB as of last year, while Tabung Haji invested around $230 million in a bond issue by the fund, media reports say.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Shortly after Swiss authorities said they have reason to believe that $4 billion in funds related to Malaysia’s state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, have apparently been misappropriated, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the city state’s Commercial Affairs Department announced they seized a “large number” of bank accounts following a probe into 1MDB.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

MASShortly after Swiss authorities said they have reason to believe that $4 billion in funds related to Malaysia’s state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, have apparently been misappropriated, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the city state’s Commercial Affairs Department announced they seized a “large number” of bank accounts following a probe into 1MDB.

In a February 1 statement, the authorities said that “Singapore does not tolerate the use of its financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds. [We] have been actively investigating possible money-laundering and other offenses carried out in Singapore. In connection with these investigations, we have sought and are continuing to seek information from several financial institutions, are interviewing various individuals, and have seized a large number of bank accounts.”

Last year, Singapore already had frozen at least two bank accounts of individuals believed to be linked to 1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. However 1MDB said in September 2015 that none of its bank accounts had been frozen by either Swiss or Singapore authorities.

One of the accounts is at the Singapore branch of Swiss private bank BSI SA and reportedly held Yak Yew Chee, a senior private banker at BSI.

In response to the latest announcement from Singapore, 1MDB immediately issued a statement saying it has “not been contacted by any foreign legal authorities on any matters relating to the company.”

“1MDB remains committed to fully cooperating with any lawful authority and investigation, subject to advice from the relevant domestic lawful authorities, and in accordance with international protocols governing such matters,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that several Malaysian state investment funds have turned to sell various London properties they own and repatriate the money in a sign of the country’s increasing financial woes.

The funds are the Malaysian state Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Kwap) pension fund (another public retirement fund), and Lembaga Tabung Haji, the government fund for Muslim pilgrims. They sold property such as 88 Wood Street, an 18-storey City of London office building, One Sheldon Square in Paddington, an office building at 151 Buckingham Palace Road and a prominent office building at 66 Fleet Street.

Kwap and EPF had exposure between them of almost $700 million to 1MDB as of last year, while Tabung Haji invested around $230 million in a bond issue by the fund, media reports say.

 

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