Singapore jails, fines Swiss bank's ex-manager in Malaysian state fund case

Jens Sturzenegger

Jens Sturzenegger, a Swiss national and the former manager of Falcon Private Bank in Singapore, pleaded guilty to six of the 16 charges levied against him, which included failing to comply with the city state's anti-money laundering rules, reports Singapore newspaper The Straits Times.

Last year, three former bankers at BSI's Singapore branch were convicted for their roles in the 1MDB scandal.

Among them was Yeo Jiawei, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for witness tampering and obstructing the 1MDB probe. He faces seven other charges involving cheating, money laundering and forgery.

Low, a family friend of Malaysian premier Najib Razak, allegedly setup the 1MDB bank after it was created by the premier. 1MDB has also denied wrongdoing.

Sturzenegger was said to have lied to investigators about never having made contact with Low.

When MAS started to look into the suspicious transactions at Falcon Bank, Sturzenegger abetted his colleague Cindy Widjaja, Falcon's head of compliance, to give false information regarding the four accounts controlled by Mr Low.

The Singapore regulator in October 2016 ordered the closure of Falcon Bank in the country, the second Swiss bank after BSI to be told to cease operating in the city-state.

Singapore authorities have also frozen Low's assets, but the 34-year-old has not been charged with any offence in the 1MDB investigation.

One of the two bank accounts belonged to Granton Property Holding Limited, from which US$378 million was transferred to Dragon Market Limited on March 25, 2013.

He pleaded guilty to six charges including not disclosing information and lying to investigators.

The remaining 10 charges were taken as read.

Sturzenegger's lawyer told the court in a mitigation plea before the sentencing that his client did not personally profit from the transactions. In November, Singapore authorities had identified Low as a key figure in the money-laundering scandal linked to 1MDB. The money was used in connection with a potentially criminal act which Sturzenegger was aware of, but failed to disclose to a suspicious transaction reporting officer.

In his sentencing, Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong said he agreed with the prosecution to impose a deterrent sentence as Sturzenegger had shown "persistent deceitful conduct".

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