KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore authorities have seized assets totaling S$240 million (RM717 million) as part of investigations into transactions linked to state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
In a joint statement today, Singapore’s Attorney General’s Chambers, Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said of the total assets seized, S$120 million (RM358.7 million) belonged to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and his immediate family.
The statement said Singapore authorities had been investigating various 1MDB-related fund flows through the country, for possible money laundering, securities fraud, cheating, and other offences committed in Singapore.
It said, in the course of the investigations, bank accounts belonging to various individuals had been seized and dealings in properties belonging to some of these individuals had been curtailed.
“The assets amount in total to S$240 million. Of these bank accounts and properties, about S$120 million belong to Mr Low Taek Jho and his immediate family,” the statement said.
It also said it noted the statement by the US Attorney General on Wednesday, seeking theforfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds related to 1MDB.
“The fund flows being investigated include those connected with Good Star Limited (Seychelles), Aabar Investments PJS Limited (BVI), Aabar Investments PJS Limited (Seychelles), and Tanore Finance Corp. (BVI).”
In its own statement, MAS said its examinations of financial institutions with 1MDB-related fund flows revealed lapses in anti-money laundering controls and it would be taking action.
In its inspection of DBS Bank Ltd (DBS), Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore Branch (SCB), and UBS AG, Singapore Branch (UBS), preliminary findings revealed instances of control failings in all three banks, and in some cases, weaknesses in the processes for accepting clients and monitoring transactions.
It said supervisory examinations, which began in March last year, found lapses and weaknesses in antimoney laundering (AML) controls in these financial institutions.
MAS said the lapses were serious and would be met by firm regulatory actions against the banks.
It said breaches of AML regulations were also found in its ongoing inspection of the Singapore branch of Falcon Private Bank.
MAS said its examination of licensed money changer – Raffles Money Exchange – found weak management oversight, inadequate risk management practices and internal controls. and that it was finalising regulatory action against the firm.
Singapore’s investigations into various 1MDB-related fund flows through the country started in March last year and are still in progress.
Lawsuits filed by the US Justice of Deparment on Wednesday claimed Low had laundered hundreds of millions of illicit funds into the United States, which funded real estate purchases and a lavish lifestyle.
The filings also claimed Low had taken cash siphoned from 1MDB to pay casino bills, including $12 million (RM48.68 million) to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and $13.4 million (RM54.35 million) to the owner of the Venetian Las Vegas casino.