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S'pore 1MDB probe - Swiss banker pleads guilty to six charges

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The branch manager of Falcon Private Bank in Singapore has pleaded guilty to six charges related to Singapore's probe on 1MDB.

Jens Fred Sturzenegger, a Swiss national, was the fifth person to be prosecuted in Singapore in relation to the probe. He was sentenced to 28 weeks jail and fined S$128,000.

Falcon Private Bank is owned by Abu Dhabi's International Investment Company (Ipic).

Singaporean prosecutors had told the court Malaysian businessman Jho Low had control over four accounts with the bank.

According to Channel News Asia, Sturzenegger pleaded guilty to charges of failing to report potentially criminal transactions involving billions of dollars and for lying to authorities to protect Low's financial interest.

Sturzenegger was charged for failing to comply with a direction from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to report a suspicious US$1.262 billion transfer to two Falcon bank accounts in 2013.

He was also charged for lying to MAS officers to distract them from probing bank accounts controlled by Low by claiming that the accounts were "beneficially owned" by Eric Tan Kim Loong, a known associate of Low's.

Sturzenegger was said to have lied to investigators about never having made contact with Low.

In October last year, MAS shut down Falcon Private Bank's Singaporean operations for failing to fulfil anti-money laundering controls and improper conduct by the bank's senior management.

According to the US Department of Justice, portions of the US$3 billion raised by 1MDB Global Investments Ltd in 2013 through Goldman Sachs had flowed into the Falcon accounts.

It is uncertain when the 10 other charges against Sturzenegger will be heard.

Thus far, four other bankers have been convicted by Singaporean authorities in relation to 1MDB-related accounts.

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