6 January 2017
Jens Fred Sturzenegger, 42, who was the head of the Singapore branch of Swiss lender Falcon Private Bank, was charged with money laundering and other offences on Thursday. He was charged with failure to report suspicious transaction amounting to $ 1.7 million. One transaction alone accounted for $1.265 billion. Other charges include giving false information to Singapore authorities in their investigation into 1MDB scandal. 1MDB was founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. 1MDB is the subject of money laundering investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore and the US.
Malaysian financier, Jho Taek Low, assisted PM Najib in setting up 1MDB. He also facilitated the illegal movement of funds. Low is named in civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice, which alleges more than US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.
US investigators traced nearly US$700 million that was sent from an account at Falcon in Singapore in 2013 to accounts in Malaysia belonging to “Malaysian Official No. 1”, which refers obviously to Prime Minister Najib. US authorities have also frozen some assets belonging to persons, including Jho Taek Low, who benefitted from these illegal transactions.
Three Singaporean private bankers from Swiss lender BSI have already been jailed by a Singapore court for their role in illegal transfer of money. Sturzenegger is the fourth and first foreigner to be charged. He is expected to plead guilty when he appears before the court on 11 January 2017. He is currently on bail.
Swiss banks BSI and Falcon Bank were closed in Singapore in this probe. It is understood that both these banks are under investigation in their home territory as well.
1MDB appointed Parker Randall as new auditor after Deloitte resigned. Two auditors prior to that, Ernst & Young and KPMG, also had a controversial exit. Parker Randall is another name for local audit firm Afrizan Tarmili Khairul Azhar.