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Ex-star banker banned from securities sector for 1MDB-linked offences

Tim Leissner gets 10-year prohibition order; MAS plans to ban three others for longer spells for undermining trust in the financial system
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 05:50

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has followed through on its recent announcement and handed down an order banning former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner from the city state's securities industry for 10 years, over breaches related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Singapore

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has followed through on its recent announcement and handed down an order banning former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner from the city state's securities industry for 10 years, over breaches related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The regulator also served notice of its intention to issue prohibition orders (POs) against three bankers from Falcon Private Bank (Singapore) and BSI Bank. Two of this trio could face a life-time ban from the securities and financial services sectors here.

If the lifetime POs are issued, The Business Times understands, they would be the first ones meted out by MAS under the Securities and Futures Act and the Financial Advisers Act.

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Ong Chong Tee, MAS deputy managing director of financial supervision, said in a statement: "MAS will not tolerate conduct by any finance professional that threatens to undermine trust and confidence in Singapore's financial system.

"MAS will not hesitate to bar such individuals from carrying out regulated activities in the financial industry. It is imperative that industry professionals and representatives of financial institutions are fit and proper persons. They must be worthy of the trust that people place in them and their institutions."

The PO against Mr Leissner took effect on Monday and follows the notice MAS gave last December. The regulator had sought a written explanation from Mr Leissner - the Goldman Sachs star who landed the bank multi-million-dollar deals with Malaysia's state-owned company - in defence of his position.

He was found to have issued an unauthorised letter in June 2015 to a Luxembourg-based financial institution and to have made false statements on behalf of Goldman Sachs (Asia) without the firm's knowledge.

MAS said: "Following careful consideration of the representations made by Mr Leissner and the relevant facts, MAS has decided to issue a PO for a period of 10 years."

The other three facing bans are Falcon Singapore branch manager Jens Fred Sturzenegger and former BSI private bankers Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah; they were all investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on 1MDB-related matters and have been convicted in Singapore courts.

MAS intends to issue life-time bans on Sturzenegger and Yak, "given the gravity of their misconduct", and a 15-year ban on Seah.

Such orders will bar the trio from regulated activities or taking part directly or indirectly in management or as directors or substantial shareholders in Singapore's securities and financial services segments.

In January this year, Sturzenegger was convicted on several charges; these included consenting to Falcon Bank's failure to file suspicious transaction reports on the inflows into the bank, failing to disclose information on suspicious outflows and furnishing false information to MAS and CAD to cover up his relationship with Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho and Mr Low's involvement in the bank accounts maintained by Falcon Bank.

Yak was the relationship manager for Mr Low and Mr Low's father, and was closely assisted by Seah in managing the relationship.

Yak and Seah were convicted last November and December respectively, in relation to forged reference letters sent to Switzerland-based entities using the letterhead of BSI to misrepresent Mr Low's net worth or to conceal the source of his fund transfers. The pair had also failed to flag his movement of funds as suspicious.

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