Jho Low operated Falcon accounts that received 1MDB money



  • Sturzenegger is accused of not reporting suspicious transactions and hiding the fact that he knew Jho Low and knew he was the operator of four accounts at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore. Photo by IBtimes uk

  • Helly Nahmad Gallery in New York ... One of the charges against Sturzenegger was that he failed to report a suspicious transfer of US$9.2 million in March 2013 from Midhurst Trading Ltd’s bank account at Falcon Singapore to the gallery. Photo by New York Times
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This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 9 - 15, 2017.

 

LOW Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was “orchestrating the transactions” at four accounts at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore, although the beneficial owner was one Eric Tan Kim Loong, Singapore prosecutors said last week.

A total of US$1.265 billion flowed into two of the accounts (8550298001 and 8550299001) between March 21 and 25 in 2013. The other accounts were 8550297001 and 8550300001.

These were facts that formed the 16 charges filed against the then Singapore branch manager of Falcon, Jens Fred Sturzenegger, on Jan 5.

In essence, he is accused of not reporting suspicious transactions and hiding the fact that he knew Jho Low and knew he was the operator of the accounts.

Falcon is owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, and its operations in Singapore has since been shut by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for being used for money laundering transactions with money that originated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously said the money that flowed into the accounts at Falcon originated from proceeds raised via US$3.0 billion worth of bonds issued by 1MDB Global Investments Ltd in March 2013.

The charges against Sturzenegger were that he failed to report:

•    The suspicious inflows of US$1.265 billion into two accounts at Falcon between March 21 and 25, 2013;

•    A suspicious transfer of US$9.2 million in March 2013 from Midhurst Trading Ltd’s bank account at Falcon Singapore to Helly Nahmad Gallery Inc (New York), despite having reasonable grounds to suspect the money may be linked to criminal conduct; (The US DOJ had previously said that Jho Low paid US$1.5 million, using 1MDB’s money, to the gallery, whose owner Hillel Nahmad was charged with money laundering and racketeering by New York prosecutor Preet Bharara in April 2013 on matters unrelated to 1MDB. He served five of his 18 months’ jail sentence.)

•    A suspicious transfer of US$378 million in March 2013 from the account of Granton Property Holdings Ltd to Dragon Market Ltd that may be for a criminal act; (The US DOJ has said Jho Low is the beneficial owner of Dragon Market.)

•    A suspicious instruction to transfer US$20 million in March 2013 from the Falcon account of Granton Property Holdings Ltd to Silver Coast Construction & Boring LLC when he may have suspected that the money was to be used for an act of crime; (Silver Coast is an Abu Dhabi company owned by Shaher Moh’d Ali Awartani. The Edge in its June 11, 2015, issue had reported that Shaher was a shareholder of Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia Investment Corp, which is beneficially owned by Jho Low and which has been accused by US and Singapore investigators of having received money that originated from 1MDB.)

•    A suspicious instruction to transfer US$30 million from Granton to Densmore Investments Ltd in March 2013;

•    A suspicious instruction to transfer US$12 million from Granton to River Dee International SA in March 2013. (The US DOJ has said River Dee received US$5.0 million on Dec 6, 2012, and that the owner of the River Dee account was 1MDB Officer 3, whose description suggests that it is Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, who was 1MDB’s general counsel.)

These instructions to transfer were never executed by the bank for its own reasons and Sturzenegger was charged with falsely informing Karen Lim of MAS that they were not executed because of a change in instructions by the client so that MAS will not probe the real reasons for the non-execution.

The 42-year-old Swiss national also faces other charges of concealing that he had communicated with and met Jho Low. He is also accused of misleading investigators that documents provided to the bank came from Eric Tan, when they were actually given by Jho Low, and that it was Jho Low and not Eric Tan who was the person operating the accounts using the email [email protected].

Singapore prosecutors said Sturzenegger’s intention was to prevent investigators from probing Jho Low’s involvement in the four accounts and also the connection Jho Low had with Falcon and Sturzenegger. He is expected to plead guilty to some if not all of the charges when the case comes up again on Jan 11, his lawyer said.