Legal

Former Falcon Private Bank Manager Jailed, Fined Amid 1MDB Scandal

Josh O'Neill, Reporter, 12 January 2017

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At the trial, the prosecution team reportedly sought a sentence of 30 to 32 weeks' imprisonment and fines totalling $104,311.

A former branch manager of Falcon Private Bank was handed a 28-week jail sentence and a fine of $88,999 after pleading guilty to six counts in relation to his connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.

Jens Sturzenegger, a 42-year-old Swiss national, was charged on 5 January with 16 counts, including failing to report suspicious transactions tied to inflows of around $1.3 billion into two accounts in March 2013. 

During the trial, the prosecution team was reportedly seeking a sentence of 30 to 32 weeks' imprisonment and fines totalling $104,311.

Sturzenegger is the fifth person to be charged in relation to the 1MDB fund, which is currently the subject of money laundering probes in at least six countries, including Singapore, the US and Switzerland. He was also accused of lying to police and the Monetary Authority of Singapore about his ties to tycoon Low Taek Jho, who is accused by authorities worldwide of being at the centre of alleged money laundering linked to Malaysia's state-owned fund. It has been suggested that hundreds of millions of dollars have been transferred from accounts at Falcon Private Bank to Low and his associates.

Last year, Falcon Private Bank and BSI were both forced to shut shop in Singapore amid the city-state's biggest crackdown on money laundering connected to the 1MDB fund. Falcon Private Bank was accused of “a persistent and severe lack of understanding” of the MAS's anti-money laundering regulations and was consequently fined $3 million.

In recent developments, the Malaysian government was reported to be making preparations to close the scandal-hit fund, which has seen multiple indictments and jail sentences handed to former affiliated bankers. The Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak – who was accused of funnelling $1 billion through his bank account - has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said his country will cooperate with international investigations into the fund, the current debt load of which is estimated at $4.8 billion. 

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