SINGAPORE prosecutors filed the seventh charge against ex-BSI wealth manager Yeo Jiawei for forgery to facilitate a transfer of US$11.95 million in 2013 from SRC International (Malaysia) Ltd to a firm beneficially owned by Tan Kim Loong, as a result of an ongoing massive and complex probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The transfer from SRC International to Affinity Equity International Partners Ltd (the firm beneficially owned by Tan) used Pacific Harbour Global Growth Fund AA4 as an intermediary and it was alleged that Yeo had fraudulently signed a reference letter addressed to Citigroup Inc's EMEA head of anti-money laundering & sanctions compliance to mislead that the letter was signed by the authority of BSI Bank Limited, Singapore.
During a mention at the state court where Yeo appeared in video link, Singapore's Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck sought - and was granted by the court - a further remand of Yeo which he said would unlikely be beyond two to three weeks more.
"The new charge is significant as it opens up an entirely new front in the investigations," Mr Kwek submitted.
"It reveals that the investigations have reached a critical stage, with a higher level of urgency and sensitivity ... investigations are moving closer to the centre of a complex web of cross-jurisdictional criminal transactions and to the origins of the money flows and the principals that the accused has been interacting with," said Mr Kwek.
Over the course of the last eight weeks, 18 witnesses have been interviewed, some on several occasions, in the probe by Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the the Attorney-General's Chambers team who have been working round the clock without any break, the court was told.
In seeking further remand of Yeo which reflects the "massive complexities of the investigation", Mr Kwek argued that a balance has to be drawn between the interests of an accused and the public interest in ensuring effective investigations.
"International money laundering is often hard to detect and even more difficult to prove as those involved take extraordinary measures to conceal their involvement. Singapore as a leading financial centre takes its responsibilities to stamp out and deter money laundering very seriously," he added.
Yeo's lawyer Philip Fong of Harry Elias Partnership argued that the accused has been remanded for 26 days to date, hence any information useful to investigators would have been extracted by now.
"It bears repeating that this is not a case where hundreds of charges have been tendered against the accused. This is a case where the prosecution tenders only piecemeal new charges at each hearing ... some of these charges (the suborning charges) have nothing to do with the actual subject matter of the investigations," Mr Fong added.
"If this case is truly so complex and if the document trail is voluminous, where are the charges to support such a statement?" he continued.
Mr Fong also sought for reasonable access to his client which he claimed was not forthcoming as his meeting with Yeo on May 9 was "anything but reasonable", as it was limited to 30 minutes and he had to sign a letter of undertaking by the CAD to discuss only a limited range of topics.
He also asked for Yeo's family, particularly his wife and young daughter, to be granted supervised access as they have not seen him in a month.
However, Mr Kwek argued against it on the grounds that Yeo has been "economical with the truth" and his wife, father and mother are also being investigated for allegedly receiving tainted funds.
District Judge Christopher Goh granted Yeo reasonable access to counsel without requiring Mr Fong to sign any letter of undertaking while allowing supervised access to his daughter.