Friday 01 Mar 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 1): Former BSI Singapore banker Kevin Swampillai testified in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd-Tanore (1MDB-Tanore) trial that he was asked not to give any information to 1MDB's auditor KPMG about the true nature of assets kept in an account that had invested in a fund managed by Bridge Partners.

Kevin, 58, is the former head of Wealth Management Services at BSI Singapore. The 44th prosecution witness in the trial testified that Terence Geh Cho Heng of 1MDB did not want KPMG to know the nature of the underlying assets in the Bridge Funds in 2012.

“The Dec 2012 meeting was intended to give KPMG an understanding of the Bridge Funds invested by Brazen Sky. The meeting was requested by Terence Geh who also instructed me not to give any information to KPMG about the true nature of the actual underlying investments of the Bridge Funds,” he said.

“BSI Bank had no obligation to disclose any information to the client’s auditors unless expressly authorized by the client. In the case of Brazen Sky, I was directed by Terence Geh not to disclose any information about the underlying assets in the Bridge Funds,” he added.

“Terence Geh did not want his auditors to know the nature of the underlying assets in the Bridge Funds. I received these instructions from Terence Geh during a phone conversation on this matter and consequently BSI did not disclose such information to KPMG,” he said before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Previously, the BSI banker had also testified on March 16, 2022, in the New York trial of ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng.

In that trial he said that Geh told him KPMG would be asking about the account that was supposed to hold liquid assets valued at US$2.3 billion. Geh, who was 1MDB’s executive director of finance, told him not to reveal to the auditor that the only assets were two illiquid drilling ships.

The US$2.3 billion that was parked in a Cayman-registered fund was a point of contention that 1MDB had with its auditors, and when KPMG refused to sign the FY2013 accounts unless it was provided with more proof of the nature and value of the Cayman fund plus a few others, they were sacked as 1MDB's auditor on the instruction of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and replaced by Deloitte.

Kevin and a few other BSI bankers — Yak Yew Chee, Yeo Jia Wei and Yvonne Seah — received kickbacks from the various 1MDB transactions. Swampillai, a Malaysian, has been banned from working in the financial industry in Singapore. Yak, Yeo, Seah were jailed for 18 weeks, 30 months and two weeks respectively.

The Swiss-based BSI was ordered to shut its operations in Singapore.

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