The Real Deal Los Angeles

Two Singapore-based bankers charged over 1MDB scandal

Malaysian state fund allegedly lined pockets of investor Jho Low

October 11, 2016 10:30AM

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Riza Aziz and the Beverly Hills pad

Riza Aziz and the Beverly Hills pad

From the New York site: Singapore prosecutors on Monday charged two bankers for helping misappropriate billions in from Malaysian state development fund 1MDB. The bankers, Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah, are accused of forgery and failing to report suspicious transactions.

U.S. prosecutors are currently investigating Malaysian prime Najib Razak and his associates, including financier Jho Low, on suspicions that they used the fund to funnel billions in public money into their own pockets. ow allegedly used 1MDB funds to buy an 85 percent stake in the Park Lane Hotel in New York alongside developer Steve Witkoff. Earlier this year, the U.S. government seized his stake, effectively freezing plans to build a condo tower on the site until Low’s stake is auctioned off.

1MDB funds were also allegedly used by Riza Aziz, a film producer and the stepson of Malaysian leader Najib Razak, to buy a 11,000-square-foot walled Beverly Hills mansion at 912 Hillcrest Road.

Yvonne Seah worked as a private banker at Swiss bank SBI, where 1MDB had accounts. Yak Yew Chee was the relationship manager for those accounts, the Wall Street Journal reported. If found guilty of forgery, the two could face prison sentences of up to four years.

According to the Journal, Yak earned fame within the bank for his ability to bring in large clients. He earned $27 million in salary and bonuses between 2011 and 2014.

In its October issue, The Real Deal examined how dirty money is funneled into U.S. commercial real estate projects. [WSJ]Konrad Putzier