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Ex-BSI managing director jailed 18 weeks, fined S$24,000 (Amended)

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THE former relationship manager of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and former managing director of Swiss bank BSI, Yak Yew Chee, has been handed a jail term of 18 weeks and fined S$24,000 by a Singapore court.

THE former relationship manager of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and former managing director of Swiss bank BSI, Yak Yew Chee, has been handed a jail term of 18 weeks and fined S$24,000 by a Singapore court.

Yak, 57, had on Friday pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and two counts of failing to disclose suspicious transactions linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) probe. Three other charges were taken into consideration for purposes of sentencing.

Yak was the banker in charge of the 1MDB account at BSI Bank.

In delivering the sentence, deputy presiding judge Jennifer Marie said she considered the mitigating factors, which included "the accused's contriteness, his willingness to disgorge a substantial sum of his bonuses that had been seized in the course of investigations, his forthright acceptance of his criminal culpability, his lack of previous antecedents and assurance to render further assistance to the ongoing investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD)".

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The judge said she also considered the aggravating factors highlighted by the prosecution, including the fact that the impugned conduct involved bank documents and "there was a gross abuse of trust" by Yak, who was a senior private banker.

The offence, carried out over a two year period, was for "significant personal gains", the judge noted.

"It is imperative that the public confidence in the integrity of Singapore's banking and financial industry is zealously protected. Any sentence imposed must ensure that the reputation and standing of Singapore as an international financial and commercial hub is not compromised," said Judge Marie.

She added that there is a clear need for the court to send a strong signal to the public and errant bankers in particular.

In prosecutor Leong Weng Tat's submissions on sentencing, he said that while he was not seeking consecutive sentences, Yak had breached the law for personal gain so he could have advantage to please his client Mr Low.

But Yak's lawyer, Lee Teck Leng, said during mitigation that his client did not know and had no grounds to believe that Mr Low was involved in criminal conduct.

He pointed out that Yak admits that he has "fallen short of the highest standards expected from bankers in Singapore" and that "his failings as a banker had brought disrepute to Singapore's financial system".

Mr Low has been named by CAD as a "key person of interest" in the trial of ex-BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, which is ongoing. Widely linked to the 1MDB saga, Mr Low has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Amendment note: The story above previously referred to Jennifer Marie's title as district judge. It has instead been changed to deputy presiding judge.

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