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Money laundering Singapore regulator fines Coutts in 1MDB case

The international operations of Coutts were taken over by a Swiss bank some time after the offences were committed.


The Monetary Authority of Singaporeexternal link (MAS) has fined the Singapore branch of Coutts private bank $2.4 million (CHF2.4 million) for breaches of anti-money laundering controls in relation to the Malaysian 1MDB wealth fund scandal.

The offences were perpetrated between 2003 and 2009 by two employees who later moved to the Lugano-based former BSI Bank, which was subject of a criminal probe in relation to the affair. Coutts’s international operations were taken over by Switzerland’s Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) in 2015.

In a statement on Friday, MAS said it had also fined Standard Chartered Bank $5.2 million, and intends to ban a former Goldman Sachs banker from performing financial services in Singapore.

"We are not in a position to comment on actions taken by financial regulators against other financial institutions," UBP said in a written statement. "As a reminder, the acquisition of Coutts was an assets only transaction and, as such, Union Bancaire Privée does not inherit Coutts’ legal issues or liabilities."

Yak Yew Che and Yvonne Seah were named as the former Coutts employees responsible for 24 breaches of regulation covering money laundering and the financing of terrorism. They were found by MAS to have failed to carry out proper due diligence with clients who were politically exposed persons.

Both are the subject of 1MDB criminal investigations, having moved to the now-defunct BSI in 2009. Banks from other countries have also been implicated in the scandal.

MAS has previously shut down BSI and Swiss-based Falcon private bank in Singapore and fined UBS for 1MDB offences.

The Swiss Attorney General has also joined the global 1MDB investigation, so far naming BSIexternal link and Falconexternal link. Switzerland’s financial regulator has also taken action against BSIexternal link and Falconexternal link and is investigating other banks in connection to the scandal.

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