(Corrects name spelling in paragraph 6 to Tan Hee Joek)
By Fathin Ungku
SINGAPORE Jan 11 A Singapore court on Wednesday
sentenced the former local branch manager of Swiss-based Falcon
Private Bank AG to 28 weeks in prison and a fine of S$128,000
($89,155.12), in an investigation tied to scandal-hit Malaysian
state investment fund 1MDB.
The bank, which is also under investigation at home, was the
second Swiss lender whose Singapore unit was ordered to cease
operations last year after BSI Bank Ltd.
The action came as the city state tried to repair the
reputation of its financial centre, which played host to some
activity related to 1 Malaysia Development Berhad.
Jens Sturzenegger, the fifth person to be taken to court in
Singapore's biggest crackdown on money laundering, pleaded
guilty to six of the 16 charges filed by the prosecutors, with
the rest taken into consideration during sentencing.
The Swiss national is the first foreigner to be charged in
the 1MDB-linked probe by Singapore authorities.
Defence lawyer Tan Hee Joek said the banker was unlikely to
appeal against the verdict. Falcon, in Switzerland, declined to
"Jens Sturzenegger is a former employee of the bank and the
investigation was against him as an individual and not against
the bank," a bank spokesman told Reuters in an email.
"Therefore we can't comment on that."
Singapore prosecutors also said Malaysian financier Low Taek
Jho, better known as Jho Low, had used the alias "Eric Tan" to
mask suspicious transactions identified in the 1MDB
"Eric Tan was not merely an alias for Jho Low, but was in
fact a real person," public prosecutor Leong Weng Tat told the
court, adding that Sturzenegger had seen a copy of the passport
and curriculum vitae of the individual, Eric Tan Kim Loong.
In November, Singapore authorities had identified Low as a
key figure in the money-laundering scandal linked to 1MDB.
Low is also among the people named in civil lawsuits filed
by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged that more than
$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.
Singapore authorities have also frozen Low's assets, but the
34-year-old has not been charged with any offence in the 1MDB
1MDB, founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, is
the subject of money-laundering investigations in at least six
countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United
U.S. investigators tracked nearly $700 million sent from an
account at Falcon in Singapore in 2013 to accounts in Malaysia
belonging to "Malaysian Official 1", which U.S. and Malaysian
officials have told Reuters refers to Najib.
Najib, who also chaired 1MDB's advisory board, has denied
wrongdoing and said Malaysia will cooperate with international
investigations. 1MDB has also denied wrongdoing.
Falcon is owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum
Singapore last year jailed three ex-BSI bankers in what it
has called its most complex money-laundering case.
($1=1.4348 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)