1MDB probe: Singapore authorities seize large number of bank accounts

SINGAPORE - A "large number" of bank accounts that could have connections to the probe on Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have been seized, reported Channel NewsAsia.

According to a joint statement released today (Feb 1), the Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore said they have been actively investigating "possible money-laundering and other offences carried out in Singapore" since the middle of last year. 

"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," the statement said. 

"Singapore is also cooperating closely with relevant authorities, including those in Malaysia, Switzerland and the United States."

"We have responded to all foreign requests for information and have requested for information from relevant counterparts to aid in our investigations."

However as investigations are ongoing, the local authorities said they are not able to provide more details at this point. 

"Singapore does not tolerate the use of its financial system as a refuge or conduit for illicit funds," the authorities added. 

The case that rocked Malaysia: 1MDB

Click on thumbnail to view. Story continues after photos. Reuters, AFP

  • In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that deposits into personal accounts of Malaysia's prime minister totaled more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) - hundreds of millions more than previously identified.
  • Tim Leissner, a Goldman Sachs partner who handled deals for 1MDB was suspended and later quit after bank investigators found he allegedly violated firm policies.
  • On Feb 5, private banker Yak Yew Chee withdrew his request to release money in his bank accounts, which had been frozen by Singapore authorities as part of their probe into 1MDB.
  • Yak Yew Chee, a senior private banker with Swiss bank BSI, was the first name to emerge from the Singapore probe into 1MDB, after it was reported that he was seeking access to his bank accounts which were frozen as part of the investigations.
  • In January, Malaysia's attorney-general said on in January that US$681 million (S$974 million) transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia.
  • It was later reported that the payment was personally authorised to Prime Minister Najib Razak by Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah.
  • Malaysians, eager to see if bank details that were published in the report were Madam Rosmah's, have been transferring RM1 (36 Singapore cents) to her account, liberal news portal Malaysian Insider reported.
  • Nine documents detailing how almost US$700mil (S$943mil) in 1MDB funds allegedly ended up in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's (pic) personal bank accounts have been released by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
  • The documents showed alleged bank transfers from various companies to Najib's personal accounts on March 2013, December 2014 and February 2015.
  • However, some details such as the last five digits of the AmIslamic Bank Bhd account, said to belong to Najib, were redacted.
  • The development fund, which owns a large portfolio of power plants, has missed payments on the bridge loan that was due end-December and its lenders were keen to see it paid before they had to write it down in first-quarter earnings, bankers said.
  • Local media have reported that the final deadline was Feb 18.
  • Malaysia's indebted and controversy-ridden state investor 1MDB will be left as a skeletal structure and possibly dissolved under a debt repayment plan in which most of its assets will be sold, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
  • 1MDB, a property-to-energy fund whose advisory board is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, has built debt of nearly 42 billion ringgit ($11.73 billion) to build a portfolio of power plants
  • Malaysian billionaire Krishnan is preparing to settle a $550 million loan owed by troubled state fund 1MDB, four sources familiar with the matter said - a last-minute reprieve for the fund whose debt woes are pressuring the ringgit and the country's sovereign credit rating.
  • Arul Kanda, newly appointed president and group executive director of Malaysia's state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)
  • In his first week on the job, Kanda, the new head of loss-making Malaysian state investor 1MDB has had a ringside view of his future challenges.
  • A missed loan payment that spooked bond and currency markets...
  • And a possible delay in an ambitious asset sale he must pull off to cut a debt pile of nearly $12 billion.
  • Regarded as a cross between a sovereign wealth fund and a private investment vehicle, with Prime Minister Najib Razak chairing its advisory board, 1MDB is struggling under the burden of $11 billion in borrowed money.

Last Friday (Jan 29), the Swiss Attorney-General asked Malaysia to aid in a probe into the alleged misappropriation of US$4 billion (S$5.7 billion) linked to fund, making it the first time foreign-government investigator that has openly waded into the 1MDB affair.

The Swiss said funds were transferred to Swiss accounts belonging to former Malaysian public officials.

The claim comes just a week after Datuk Seri Najib was cleared by Malaysia's Attorney-General of graft claims concerning US$700 million deposited into his bank accounts via companies linked to 1MDB.

maryanns@sph.com.sg

Read also:

Why Malaysia's 1MDB scandal is denting growth

Swiss prosecutor seeks KL's help in 1MDB probe

Dr Mahathir to Najib: Just show your bank accounts

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