Singapore’s central bank ordered Falcon Private Bank to shut its operations for violating anti-money laundering regulations following an investigation into corruption allegations against the Malaysian state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also fined local DBS Bank and Swiss lender UBS for several breaches by specific bank officers.
Falcon also loses it merchant bank status for “serious failures in anti-money laundering (AML) controls and improper conduct by senior management at the head office in Switzerland as well as the Singapore Branch,” the MAS said in a statement Tuesday. The bank has also been penalized S$4.3 million ($3.1 million) for 14 breaches of rules related to money laundering and terror financing.
Falcon is the second Swiss private bank to be ordered by the MAS to cease its operations amid the 1MDB probe in the country. In May, the central bank ordered BSI SA’s local branch to close down over misconduct by some of the bank’s employees and poor management oversight of the bank’s operations. It was the first time in 32 years that the MAS withdrew a license from a merchant bank.
The MAS, which also serves as the financial regulator of Singapore, fined South East Asia’s biggest bank DBS S$1 million ($728,067) while UBS was fined S$1.3 million.
“The control lapses observed in DBS and UBS relate to specific bank officers who failed to carry out their duties effectively. MAS’ inspections did not find pervasive control weaknesses within these banks. MAS has admonished the two banks and instructed their management to investigate the lapses, promptly address the control deficiencies, and take appropriate disciplinary measures against the staff involved.” MAS said.
This follows Monday’s development where Singaporean officials charged Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah Yew Foong — ex-employees of BSI Singapore — for failing to disclose suspicious transactions involving Malaysian prime minister’s aide Jho Low.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is also seeking to seize over $1 billion of assets linked to 1MDB, including 11 luxury properties in the U.S. In an August court filing, the department said that 1MDB’s misappropriated funds made their way through shell companies, checks, wire transfers and accounts with Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rothschild Bank AG and BSI Bank Ltd. These banks were not accused of wrongdoing.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had set up 1MDB to boost the country's economic growth. Investigators reportedly believe that about $1 billion 1MDB went to Najib’s private bank accounts. He has denied any wrongdoing.