Report: Singapore-based bank tied to US$20m wire for 1MDB partner’s founder

Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance said 1MDB had deposited the US$1.103 billion it redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands into a Singapore-based branch of Swiss bank BSI Bank. ― File pic
Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance said 1MDB had deposited the US$1.103 billion it redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands into a Singapore-based branch of Swiss bank BSI Bank. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 ― Another Singapore-based bank has been identified as having been used to channel US$20 million (RM72.8 million) to a businessman who founded an investment firm that partnered the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Singapore’s Business Times (BT) reported today documents showing the September 2009 fund transfer from a bank account under “Acme Time Limited” to Saudi national Tarek Obaid.

BT reported that Tarek’s firm PetroSaudi International (PSI) had entered into a joint-venture deal with the state-owned 1MDB worth US$ 2.5 billion (RM9.1 billion).

The business paper said British bank RBS Coutts ― whose Singapore branch was used by “Acme Time Limited” for the wiring of the US$20 million ―  declined to comment on this matter.

Under the deal signed off in September 2009, PSI would pump in assets with a valuation of US$2.7 billion in exchange for US$1 billion cash from 1MDB.

Last month, Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance said 1MDB had deposited the US$1.103 billion it redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands into a Singapore-based branch of Swiss bank BSI Bank, with the amount held in US dollars.

Following the news, the Singapore paper said the republic’s Monetary Authority had confirmed that it would aid Malaysia “within the full ambit” of the Singaporean regulator’s laws in Putrajaya’s probe into 1MDB.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore also reportedly confirmed it was contacting the “relevant financial institutions” in the country, but did not give further details due to “confidentiality considerations”.

The debt-laden state investment firm 1MDB, launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is currently the subject of an investigation by the Auditor General’s Department and in line for further scrutiny by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also announced that a high-powered team comprising officials from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the police will investigate all complaints against debt-laden 1MDB.

1MDB is reported as having about RM42 billion in debts ― some of which are guaranteed by the government, but Putrajaya has repeatedly said that the firm’s assets exceed its debts.

This week, Najib dismissed claims that 1MDB was facing bankruptcy, saying in a parliamentary reply that 1MDB had already repaid a RM2 billion loan to Maybank and RHB

The inability of 1MDB to meet its loan payments previously had fuelled speculation that the firm was struggling with cash flow issues and unable to service its debt.