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Former Falcon banker's appeal against industry ban thrown out

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The Minister-in-charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, had shot down an appeal by Jens Sturzenegger, a former private banker at Falcon bank convicted in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case, and upheld a lifetime order which bars him from working in the city state's financial and services sectors.

Singapore

THE Minister-in-charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, had shot down an appeal by Jens Sturzenegger, a former private banker at Falcon bank convicted in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case, and upheld a lifetime order which bars him from working in the city state's financial and services sectors.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, MAS said Sturzenegger had appealed to the "Minister" against the regulator's decision to issue a permanent prohibition order (PO) against him, which was dismissed.

The move against the banker, who was linked to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low in the 1MDB case, was first announced by MAS in May this year. The regulator made no mention of the minister's name but The Business Times understands that it was Deputy Prime Minister Tharman.

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MAS also said it was reviewing written submissions by NRA Capital's chief executive Kevin Scully who was served notice of intention for the issue of a 3-year PO against him and that the decision will be announced when the review was completed.

Meanwhile, two more individuals involved in the 1MDB money laundering case were slapped with POs, this time for six years, bringing the tally to six individuals, mostly bankers. That's six down, and two more pending.

"MAS expects professionals in the financial services industry to uphold high standards of integrity and proper conduct," said MAS deputy managing director of financial supervision Ong Chong Tee.

"Those who fall short of these standards will be dealt with firmly, to safeguard public trust in our financial institutions and Singapore's reputation as a clean financial centre," he said in the statement.

The latest two who were issued POs are former Maybank Kim Eng Securities remisier Kelvin Ang Wee Keng and former NRA Capital research head Lee Chee Waiy, both of whose POs take effect from Oct 30, 2017.

Ang was convicted of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act for bribing Mr Lee with S$3,000 to expedite the preparation of a valuation report on PetroSaudi Oil Services Limited (PSOSL) in a deal involving 1MDB.

Mr Lee was the primary person in NRA Capital working on the valuation report and had accepted the bribe from Ang. He "had applied inappropriate methodology and assumptions in the valuation of PSOSL", said MAS.

In addition to Mr Scully, the regulator has also served notice of intention to issue a lifetime ban against Yeo Jiawei, BSI Bank's former wealth manager who was described by Singapore prosecutors in court as having "schemed directly with those responsible for this complex web of criminal transactions and activities" involving 1MDB funds.

Yeo was investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department on 1MDB-related matters and convicted here on several charges including money laundering, cheating and tampering of witnesses during CAD's probe.

The first to face the brunt of MAS' PO call in relation to 1MDB was Tim Leissner, former Goldman Sachs senior banker, who back in March was issued a 10-year ban.

Last month, Wall Street's self-regulator made a similar move and barred Mr Leissner from the US securities industry on the grounds that he failed to cooperate with the regulator's investigation of alleged money-laundering connected with the Malaysian state-owned firm.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) said that Mr Leissner was barred from associating with any members of Finra, following his failure to respond to requests for documents and information related to his departure from Goldman in early 2016. Mr Leissner was said to have managed the relationship with 1MDB when Goldman Sachs was engaged to arrange three bond issues in 2012 and 2013.

Apart from Sturzenegger, Leissner, Ang and Lee, another two who have been banned here are former BSI bankers Yak Yew Chee and Seah Mei Ying (formerly known as Yvonne Seah Yew Foong) for a lifetime and 15 years respectively.

Yak and Seah were convicted of multiple counts of failing to report suspicious transactions and of forging reference letters at BSI Bank on behalf of Mr Low, the man at the centre of the Malaysian financial scandal.

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