Lawyer: Yeo was 'just only middleman' for Jho Low, associates

Modified 8 Nov 2016, 9:20 am

A lawyer representing former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei asserts his client was only an “intermediary” and “messenger” following instructions that came from Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho or better known as Jho Low, reports Singapore Straits Times.

Philip Fong, who was cross-examining Amicorp relationship manager Jose Renato Carvalho Pinto, in Yeo's trial in a Singapore court, asked that Yeo was relaying instructions to Amicorp on behalf of his client Aabar and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny, then the chief executive officer of Aabar Abu Dhabi, to which the witness agreed.

Fong: Yeo was just an intermediary and messenger?

Pinto: A messenger doesn't fly private jets, ... or stay in (Emirates) Palace Hotel. He wasn't just a DHL messenger."

Fong: But Yeo wasn't given any power of attorney, and had no authority to make decisions on behalf of his client.

Pinto: Agreed.

Fong: When Yeo was processing payment of US$1.36 million for the 27 tickets to Manny Pacquiao boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he was merely doing it on Jho Low's close business associate Eric Tan Kim Loong's instructions.

Pinto: Agreed.

Al-Husseiny, along with Jho Low were among the four named directly in the United States Department of Justice's civil suits regarding alleged kleptocracy involving 1MDB.

The other two named in the US DOJ action were Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's stepson Riza Aziz, and Abu Dhabi government official Khadem al-Qubaisi.

Yeo is facing four counts of perverting the course of justice by allegedly urging witnesses to lie to the police while he was released on bail, after police arrested him on March 17. This is in connection with Singapore's largest money-laundering probe related to 1MDB.

He is also facing several counts of money-laundering, cheating and forgery in a separate trial scheduled for next year.

Fong also disputed Pinto's testimony yesterday regarding Yeo's jet-setting lifestyle after leaving BSI and joining Jho Low and the counsel also questioned whether the witness testimony was correct when he claimed that his client only “travel less than three times in private jet for work purposes only”.

Pinto however, disagreed, claiming Yeo flew 15 times on a private jet to meet Low and Al Husseiny.

Prosecutors discover three other ‘Aabars’

Yesterday, prosecutors discovered there are at least three other entities with identical or almost identical names to Aabar Investments PJS, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), reports The Edge Markets.

The entities are Aabar Investments PJS Limited which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as well as Aabar Investments PJS Limited, incorporated in Seychelles.

There is also another BVI company called Aabar International Investments PJS Limited.

Al-Husseiny, who is former Aabar PJS CEO is listed as director of these three “Aabars”.

The US DOJ filed a civil suit, claiming, among others, that the BVI-incorporated Aabar Investments PJS Limited was used to divert US$1.367 billion in proceeds from two bond sales made by 1MDB.

Pinto testified yesterday that Yeo told him to open a bank account for a Samoa-incorporated company called Aabar Investments PJS Limited, whose director was also Husseiny.

The witness also said that Yeo had an “upgrade in his lifestyle” after he left BSI and started working with Husseiny and tycoon Low Taek Jho.

“He’s always travelling to Abu Dhabi, flying on private jets with Jho Low, and (sailing on the) yacht Equanimity,” said Pinto.

“He changed his watch as well. His lifestyle definitely changed.”

Yeo had engaged Amicorp to help with administrative work related to setting up trusts, offshore entities and bank accounts for BSI’s clients.

Pinto said it was impressed upon him that Amicorp would be doing work for a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, and that transactions would include dealings with another sovereign wealth fund from the UAE.

Yeo purportedly took care to “compartmentalise” his dealings with various parties. Pinto said Yeo asked him to blind carbon copy him on three different email accounts, each for work related to different people.

He communicated with Pinto via the Telegram app, and the latter claimed that Yeo often“destroyed” the messages between them.

Yeo even asked him in March to destroy his laptop and stay away from Singapore.

Pinto believed that Yeo wanted the laptop to be destroyed for fear that the Commercial Affairs Department would get hold of it and ask him to explain the significance of documents, emails, and other data contained within it.