Oct. 10, 2016 5:03 a.m. ET
SINGAPORE—Prosecutors charged two former private bankers Monday with forgery and other criminal charges in the latest legal salvo related to the alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars from Malaysian state development fund 1MDB.
Yak Yew Chee, 57 years old, and Yvonne Seah, 45, were charged in Singapore’s state courts with three counts each of forgery and four counts each of failing to report suspicious transactions between 2012 and 2014, during their employment by the Singapore branch of Swiss private bank BSI SA.
Mr. Yak was the relationship manager for accounts held at BSI by subsidiaries of 1MDB, according to investigators and people familiar with the bank’s operations. Ms. Seah, whose full Chinese name is Seah Yew Foong Yvonne, was a senior private banker at the firm.
No pleas were entered. Both defendants were released on bail after the hearing and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Lawyers for the two declined to comment on the charges outside the courthouse, saying they needed to review them first.
The forgery charge carries a maximum jail term of up to four years. Failing to report a suspicious transaction is punishable upon conviction by a fine of not more than S$20,000 (about $14,500).
Authorities in Singapore, Switzerland and at least four other countries are investigating 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, which was founded in 2009 by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Swiss investigators say they believe as much as $6 billion has gone missing from 1MDB. The Wall Street Journal has reported that investigators believe a large chunk of it passed through BSI in Singapore, starting around 2011.
The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing, a position backed by his attorney general. The fund has also denied any wrongdoing and said it would cooperate with any lawful investigation.
In July, the U.S. Justice Department filed civil lawsuits to seize assets, including property in Los Angeles and New York, that it said was purchased with some of the missing funds.
Tags: Malaysia, Singapore, bankers, U.S. Justice Department, forgery, criminal charges, Najib Razak, Najib, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., 1MDB, Yak Yew Chee, 1MDB scandal, misappropriation of billions of dollars from Malaysian state development fund 1MDB, Yvonne Seah, suspicious transactions, BSI SA, Seah Yew Foong Yvonne