Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner banned for life by MAS over role in 1MDB scandal

Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday (19 December) imposed a lifetime Prohibition Order (PO) against former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner following the charges brought against him by the US Department of Justice (US DOJ) over his role in the 1MDB scandal.

The enhancement of the order by MAS from a 10-year PO against Leissner, who was Goldman’s former South-east Asia chief, comes after the US DOJ’s charges and Leissner’s guilty plea in relation to the probe into individuals involved in dealing with the Malaysian sovereign fund.

Leissner admitted last month in the US to conspiring in money-laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The case in the US provided further evidence of Leissner’s involvement in funds flows related to 1MDB, which were previously not available to MAS, the central bank said.

Leissner had obtained and retained business from 1MDB for Goldman Sachs’ payment of bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia, and embezzled funds from 1MDB for himself and others. He had also laundered the bribes, kickbacks and funds through financial systems in the US and elsewhere.

Since the start of investigations into 1MDB-related funds flows in 2015, MAS has been investigating the involvement of the relevant individuals, including Leissner.

“The 10-year PO issued against Mr Leissner in March 2017 was based on the limited information available to MAS at that time. MAS was unable to interview Mr Leissner, as he was not in Singapore and could not be compelled to travel to Singapore to assist in investigations,” MAS said.

The lifetime PO prohibits Leissner from acting as a director of, or becoming a substantial shareholder or a capital markets services licensee or exempt person under the Securities and Futures Act. This is in addition to the ban from performing any activity under the SFA, and taking part in the management of any capital markets services firm in Singapore that was stipulated in the original PO.

“MAS had made clear that it will consider any new evidence related to the 1MDB funds flows and will take further enforcement actions where appropriate. The latest actions against Mr Leissner arose from the close cooperation and continuing investigations by law enforcement and regulatory authorities in the US, Singapore and other countries,” MAS said.

On Monday, Malaysia’s attorney general filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and its former employees including Leissner over the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the scandal, and two former employees of 1MDB, were also charged.

Malaysian authorities accused Goldman Sachs of being involved in stealing US$2.7 billion from government-backed bond issues.  Issued in 2012 and 2013, the 1MDB bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs raised a total of US$6.5 billion.

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