SINGAPORE (May 24): Kelvin Ang Wee Keng, a former remisier with Maybank Kim Eng, has become the fifth person convicted in Singapore for roles related to fund transfers linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Ang, 35, pleaded guilty in court this afternoon for bribing research analyst Jacky Lee Chee Waiy with $3,000 to speed up the preparation of a valuation report needed to support the acquisition of PetroSaudi Oil Services Limited (PSOSL).

Ang was fined $9,000 by district judge Lim Keng Yeow – $1,000 lower than the fine sought by prosecutors. Ang’s three weeks of remand when he was first arrested last year was taken into consideration, the judge added.

Back in August 2013, Ang was asked by his friend – former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, acting on behalf of his clients – to help find analysts able to produce a “substantial” valuation report urgently for the acquisition.

The clients, Bridge Partners Investment Management (Cayman) Limited and Affinity Equity International Partners Limited, were willing to pay up to US$300,000 ($416,000) for the report.

Bridge Partners Investment Management (Cayman) Ltd is an entity tasked by 1MDB to manage US$2.3 billion of its cash. It did so via a so-called segregated portfolio company (SPC) called Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund SPC.

The SPC has been described as a high-risk portfolio, and investors have been warned they could possibly lose everything.

Following Yeo’s request, Ang turned to NRA Capital, a boutique financial services firm, and began preliminary discussions.

Yeo had also asked Ang to confirm with NRA Capital that it could come up with a valuation figure of US$2.4 billion, based on documents provided by Yeo. NRA Capital was given the mandate on Aug 29, 2013.

For producing the “substantial” report, NRA Capital was paid US$300,000. Ang in turn, received US$235,000 from NRA Capital in the form of a referral fee.

According to the prosecution, Ang was earning some $100,000 a year in commissions at Maybank Kim Eng.

A few days after NRA Capital started working on the valuation, Yeo told Ang that the clients were chasing for it.

Ang then called Lee, who was then an associate director with NRA Capital and the key person working on the valuation. 

When Ang met up with Lee near the latter’s office, Lee asked for additional details needed to produce the valuation report.

Lee also told Ang that he had a lot of other projects and was going to Malaysia for the weekend, and could only start working on the report the week after.

Citing what he had heard from Yeo, Ang then told Lee that the “deal had already been done”.

By this, Ang meant that the valuation report to be produced by NRA Capital was merely to justify the US$2.4 billion valuation of PSOSL, which owns two drill ships – PetroSaudi Discoverer and PetroSaudi Saturn.

Ang then gave Lee $3,000 cash, as an inducement, in an envelope.

Lee then gave his assurance that the report will be done in two weeks. The 84-page report was issued on Sept 16, 2013.

In the report, NRA Capital qualified that it has relied on publicly available information provided by the management of the client and or their representatives.

“We have not been able to independently verify all these representations but have taken them to be true and accurate in the formation of our opinion which forms the basis of this report,” it added.

In his mitigation plea, Ang’s lawyer, Hamidul Haq of Rajah & Tann, stressed that his client’s “simple-minded” act was meant to “expedite, and not to amend any number, nor the content” of the valuation report.

Ang was merely anxious to see through the completion of the report, the lawyer said.

Without referring to 1MDB by name, Hamidul also pointed out that Ang was at the “bottom of the connected echelon” within the bigger scheme of things.

Ang, who was charged on April 20 last year and has since been unemployed, “needs to move on,” the lawyer said.

During the trial of Yeo last year, the prosecution had painted a picture of Yeo as an arrogant and dismissive man, especially after he started getting close to Low Taek Jho, popularly known as Jho Low.

Low is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the 1MDB fund flows.

According to the prosecutors, Yeo had described Ang as being among the “working level” group of people involved in the various fund flows engineered by Yeo and Low.

This “working level” group includes Yeo’s other contacts, such as Samuel Goh Sze Wei, who was used by Yeo to set up an intermediary for transferring funds. 

Yeo has appealed his sentence of 30 months’ jail last December for witness tampering. Prosecutors said earlier today that the appeal might be heard this August.

In addition, Yeo faces an additional seven charges of money laundering. A series of pre-trial conferences has been held, including one last Thursday on May 18. The next such PTC will be held in June.