Could Asian Legal Issues Stall the Sale of BSI?

Picture: 1MDB

The Singapore operations of Ticino based BSI Bank have been taking up space in local, Malaysian and the international media as the collateral damage from the Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund scandal has begun to unwind.

At the beginning of the year, shortly after the arrest of Andre Esteves, Grupo BTG’s controlling shareholder, BTG Pactual quickly put up for sale the private bank it had just acquired from Assicurazioni Generali for 1.5 billion Swiss francs, namely BSI.

There was a steady stream of potential suitors all keen to snap up the private banking business and potentially strike a good deal as Grupo BTG need a quick injection of capital to support their Latin American based units.

Recently though talk of the sale has gone quiet perhaps as a result of growing legal actions in Asia in which BSI has been named.

Alleged Money Laundering

According to Singapore’s Straits Times, sources have also named a private banker with BSI Singapore, Yak Yew Chee as the first person to emerge in the investigation by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) into the ongoing 1MDB scandal.

Yak was named as a private banker to Low Taek Jho as well as relationship manager for 1MDB Global Investments Ltd, Aabar Investment PJS Limited and SRC International Sdn Bhd. Mr Low, is a Malaysian businessman. He was allegedly summoned to appear before Malaysia's Public Accounts Committee over links to the 1MDB saga.

Unpaid Fees

This also follows an announcement on the seizure by MAS and the Commercial Affairs Department of a «large number» of bank accounts over alleged money-laundering and related offences surrounding purported financial mismanagement at 1MDB. Singapore is cooperating with the relevant authorities, including those in Malaysia, Switzerland and the US. also reported recently that the Singaporean operations of BSI was in dispute with a local recruiter over unpaid fees which the bank denied.  

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