SINGAPORE – Former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei’s net worth escalated from S$2 million to nearly S$26 million in just 15 months after he left the Swiss private bank in Singapore, the court heard on Tuesday (Nov 22).
This wealth includes funds earned through “illicit means” and the “taking of secret profits” in transactions linked to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), said prosecutors .
Among Yeo’s assets were three Singapore properties worth a combined S$6.15 million and two properties in Australia worth A$6 million (S$6.3 million), prosecutors said on day 12 of his trial on four charges of obstructing justice by tampering with witnesses.
“I put it to you that it is quite unbelievable to amass so much – S$23.9 million- in just one year and three months, by just acting as an ‘introducer, intermediary, independent consultant or relationship manager’,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng said in his cross examination of Yeo.
But Yeo, 33, disagreed. “This can be proven by facts,” he argued. “CAD forgot these are referral fees earned from one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world.”
He pointed to former BSI banker Yak Yew Chee earning S$27 million from salary and bonuses from BSI from 2011 to 2015.
But DPP Tan countered: “Yak earned S$27 million in four years. You earned S$23.9 million in one year and three months.”
Yak was sentenced last week to 18 weeks’ jail and fined S$24,000 for forgery and for failing to disclose information on suspicious transactions – the first person to be sentenced here in the 1MDB-linked probe.
Yak was the relationship manager of Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, suspected of playing a key role in the siphoning of billions of dollars from 1MDB.
Yeo on Tuesday defended his earnings as “referral fees that were directly earned”. He said that “Yak took commissions as a private banker. There is a big difference.”
DPP Tan accused Yeo of “playing poker” with the court when he did not admit to using secondary phone lines, meeting his former boss Kevin Swampillai at Springleaf Park on March 20, staying at Jho Low’s apartment in Hong Kong in order to downplay his relationship with Low.
“To prevent the truth about your illicit wealth and dealings from coming out in court, and the CAD investigations, you obstructed the course of justice,” DPP Tan said.
But Yeo said: “Nothing I have done is illegal.”