SINGAPORE's white-collar crime buster, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), seized 12 accounts holding some S$9.7 million of Yak Yew Chee, a senior private banker of wealth manager BSI Singapore, court documents revealed.
Mr Yak, 58, is believed to be the relationship manager of Malaysian tycoon Jho Low and some entities linked to Malaysia's controversial state-backed firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has been a banker with BSI Singapore from 2010 - currently on paid leave - and prior to that was with RBS Coutts, said a source.
CAD officer Wan Abdul Rahman Abdul Latiff said in an affidavit that the banker was one of the individuals being investigated for possible breaches of the Penal Code and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking (Confiscation of Benefits) Act in its ongoing probe which "encompasses various entities and individuals".
On Friday, the banker who was not present in court and was represented by senior counsel Roderick Martin of Martin & Partners, withdrew his motion to lift the freeze on his bank accounts after Singapore's deputy public prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng confirmed - upon request by Mr Martin - that Mr Yak could remit some S$1.76 million to Singapore from abroad to settle tax and legal matters and that these funds will not be frozen.
The judge granted Mr Yak's request to withdraw the application.
Mr Yak had filed a criminal motion in the Singapore High Court on Nov 24 last year seeking for all the funds in his bank accounts in DBS, Bank of China, CIMB Bank and OCBC, which were seized by the CAD, to be released to pay taxes and legal fees. His tax liability for 2015 alone amounted to S$1.36 million based on an employment income of S$6.9 million in 2014.
The public prosecutor submitted that Mr Yak's application should be dismissed as the accounts frozen in Singapore were not shown to be necessary for various expenses. This more so as the banker had remitted close to S$8 million to his overseas bank accounts since 2012, a bulk or S$5.6 million of which was transferred out only after BSI commenced investigations against him for misconduct.
Based on the affidavit, Mr Yak was also seeking the release of the funds to continue having his solicitors on retainer given the "complex criminal investigation" against him which was taking place against an international background.
The probe was described as a "high-profile" criminal matter concerning "multiple, complex issues of law" and various high net worth individuals including public personalities and politicians and numerous cross-border transactions involving large sums of money via intermediary funds.
"My client is not guilty of any wrongdoing," said Mr Martin outside the courthouse.