The Unending 1MDB Financial Scandal–Swiss Banker charged

January 6, 2017

The Unending 1MDB Financial Scandal–Swiss Banker charged

Former Falcon Bank Singapore head accused over more than $1.2bn of suspect fund flows

by: Michael Peel in Bangkok

Image result for Najib and Imdb

A Swiss bank executive in Singapore has become the first western national to face criminal prosecution over the suspected looting of billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB state investment fund.

Image result for jens sturzenegger arrested

Jens Sturzenegger (pic above), former head of Falcon Private Bank’s Singapore branch, will plead guilty to some of a 16-count charge sheet related mainly to the alleged falsification or withholding of information, his lawyer told a court hearing in the city state on Thursday.

The case is the latest in a series mounted by Singapore over the 1MDB scandal, which has also spawned probes in the USSwitzerland and other countries where stolen money allegedly flowed. The affair triggered a political crisis in Malaysia and embroiled Najib Razak, the prime minister, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Sturzenegger, who was arrested in October, is charged with offences related to alleged money transfers totalling more than $1.25bn. Tan Hee Joek, Mr Sturzenegger’s lawyer, said his client planned to admit guilt, although he did not say to which charges.

The 42-year-old Swiss banker is accused of lying to authorities by denying that several Falcon bank accounts were linked to Taek Jho Low, a high-profile Malaysian businessman and socialite. Mr Low is close to Mr Najib and is accused by US authorities of being a main architect of the laundering of 1MDB funds.

Image result for Riza Aziz and his associates

Mr Low has previously denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged with any offence. Falcon, which is owned by Abu Dhabi’s state International Petroleum Investment Company, has emerged as a central player in the 1MDB case. In October it was fined by Swiss authorities and shut down in Singapore for allegedly processing almost $4bn linked to 1MDB.

The Singapore action against Mr Sturzenegger also meshes with claims made in a lawsuit filed by US authorities in July to seize property and other assets allegedly bought with misappropriated 1MDB funds. Mr Sturzenegger is accused in the Singapore case of failing to report a suspicious transfer of $378m in March 2013 from a Falcon account held by Granton Property Holding to a company named Dragon Market.

US authorities separately allege the same transaction was part of a bigger plot to siphon off more than $2.5bn from a pair of bonds totalling $6.5bn issued by the Malaysian fund in 2012 and 2013 and backed by Ipic The US lawsuit, which does not name Mr Sturzenegger, claims Mr Low is the beneficial owner of the Dragon Market account.

Another Singapore charge is that Mr Sturzenegger allegedly failed to report a suspicious $9.19m transfer to a company named Helly Nahmad Gallery Inc. The US lawsuit does not name the gallery but alleges that Mr Low and others used 1MDB money to buy more than $130m of artworks, including two paintings by Claude Monet and one by Vincent van Gogh. Helly Nahmad Gallery Inc could not immediately be reached for comment.

Falcon bank has come under further scrutiny after Swiss authorities accused it of failing to adequately investigate the commercial background of $681m of “pass-through transactions” in 2013 and the return six months later of $620m. The $681m is the exact amount of mysterious payments made at that time to Mr Najib, who chaired 1MDB’s advisory board.

Malaysia’s Attorney-General(Najib crony Apandi Ali) has said the money sent to Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts was a gift from the Saudi Arabian Royal Family. The claim has never been independently verified.

Falcon declined to comment other than to confirm Mr Sturzenegger was a “former employee”. The bank has previously said it has put in place measures to prevent future problems such as those found by regulators in the 1MDB case.

Other banks have faced questions over their roles in the 1MDB affair, with fines already levied on Switzerland’s UBS and BSI, and DBS of Singapore. Goldman Sachs, which arranged the $6.5bn of bond issues for 1MDB, has denied any wrongdoing.


11 thoughts on “The Unending 1MDB Financial Scandal–Swiss Banker charged

  1. Najib may be a crook but he seems to be a clever crook. Trump is a deal maker. He made his millions making deals. My hunch is nothing will come off the US Justice Department’s investigation on the 1MDB related case eventually. Najib himself can make a deal with Trump. He could give few millions to a Trump’s charity like Trump’s Foundation (or any set-up of that kind) and bingo, all may end well that was down right crooked from the beginning and remains so to this day.

  2. ( Kindly correct me if I am wrong ) –

    Once the 1MDB gets the initial approval, what the rogues did was to HIVE off the initial release into the Account of the mastermind into his Account in S’pore – a staggering sum of USD 2.3 billion : THAT’s the HIATUS ! – Once released , that collosal MYR ( few billion ) is DIVIDED between the three …… –

    SO , the initial go galavanting on their luxurious spree , got them and VIPs over here into their own tangled web……, not only amongst the three VIPs, but a vicious Web in which the mastermind themselves got into a massive entanglement , from which they are unable to free themselves ( like the ocean fishes entangled into the fishing net of their own making ) …… –

    But none of them is worried, b’coz its the GST & indirect taxes by the masses , that glosses over to ‘cover up ‘ the rogues….. –

    So, they confidently say to the Malaysian public that its a small matter of National ‘ accounting ‘ procedures which will put back the Nation on its ‘ track ‘ ….TRUE , but the initial USD 2.3 billion is GONE , and has become One Malaysia Massive Debacle , by which all Malaysians have to burden the Hiatus…..

    But for how long…..?

  3. As to the rest of it, whatever Debacle 1 MDB has created , the rogues say : ITS ALL COVERED BY THE ASSETS ACQUIRED , recoverable depending on Valuation etc…… –

    Good for you, good luck…..

  4. Since the Singapore authorities have already charged several bankers with falsifying documents and committing banking fraud and money laundering on behalf of their clients, the next step,is to charge the account holders themselves of money laundering activities. This will net fei low Jho and perhaps Riza Aziz. Then the money trail will lead to 1MDB and the case will be blown open.

  5. PKR Rafizi apparently says BN vote is down to 40% and still going down. What he does not say is PAS has remained at 25% and unchanging..This means that eventually Hadi’s PAS is going to go up to Najib and give him a choice of whether to let him take over UMNO or Najib and Rosmah go to jail..

  6. Ultra ethno-nationalists and race supremacists in UMNO Baru must be experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance as MO1 continues to “gadai’ 1Malaysia to Mainland Chinese economic interests. But I guess $$$ trumps all the uneasy feelings …..

  7. “My hunch is nothing will come off the US Justice Department’s investigation on the 1MDB related case eventually. Najib himself can make a deal with Trump….”

    I’ve great faith in our US Department of Justice. Obama did not make a deal with Najib and it is very unlikely that Trump will. He can’t. We have a system of justice that is supposed to be independent of politics and individuals. It is improper for a President to say that someone will or will not be prosecuted. No one is supposed to be above the law.

    The United States was the first country to make money laundering a crime in 1986, unlike the UK where it is a civil case. Whether to commence criminal investigations and prosecutions of specific acts of alleged criminality is not the President’s decision to make. It is the duty of the Justice Department, and ultimately the Attorney General, to make those decisions based strictly on legal considerations, and independent of the political interests of the White House. Whether or not the President favors prosecutions is really irrelevant.

    The Justice Department is independent from the president, that the Attorney General and others should make decisions absent from political considerations, and that when it seemed as if independence might not be possible, the AG should recuse him/herself and appoint a special prosecutor. If there’s suspicion and clear evidence that people broke laws, an inquiry should begin. If the AG feels undue pressure from President Change and his gang, then he should appoint a special prosecutor to try to wall off the investigation from political pressure.

    Having said all these, the case can drag on for years.

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