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Ex-Goldman banker barred for life from dealmaking here over 1MDB saga

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Former Goldman Sachs director Tim Leissner, among the central figures embroiled in the 1MDB scandal, has been barred for life from involvement in capital-market activities in Singapore, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday.

FORMER Goldman Sachs director Tim Leissner, among the central figures embroiled in the 1MDB scandal, has been barred for life from securities deal-making in Singapore.

The latest move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday comes as the authorities dial up the heat on individuals from the US investment bank and their role in raiding the Malaysian state fund, and funnelling dirty money.

Leissner’s lifetime prohibition order for capital-making activities has been raised from an initial 10-year ban levied against him, and follows Leissner’s admission to criminal charges brought against him by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Singapore regulator said.

Leissner, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia, has pleaded guilty to these charges for conspiracy to commit money laundering, and in violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act.

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He has admitted to participating in a conspiracy to obtain and retain business from 1MDB for Goldman Sachs through the promise and payment of bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.

Leissner also admitted to embezzling funds from 1MDB for himself and others, and laundering these bribes, kickbacks and funds through global financial systems.

The MAS said the earlier 10-year ban was based on the "limited information" it had at the time, saying that the MAS was unable to interview Leissner, as he was not in Singapore and “could not be compelled to travel to Singapore to assist in investigations”.

"The US DOJ’s charges and Mr Leissner’s guilty plea have provided further evidence of Mr Leissner’s involvement in funds flows related to 1MDB, which were previously not available to MAS," it said.

The lifetime prohibition will also bar him from acting as a director, or becoming a substantial shareholder, of a capital markets services licensee under the Securities and Futures Act in Singapore.

This week, Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs, as well as Leissner and his deputy Roger Ng, over false or misleading statements to “dishonestly misappropriate” US$2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the units of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs, said Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas in a statement reported by Bloomberg.

Goldman Sachs earned some US$600 million in fees for these bond arrangements that raised US$6.5 billion all in.

Criminal charges under securities laws were also filed against former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low in connection with the bond offerings.

Goldman Sachs, in denying wrongdoing, this week claimed that the former Malaysian government and 1MDB had lied to the bank. It said that "certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to Goldman Sachs, outside counsel and others about the use of proceeds from these transactions".

"1MDB, whose CEO and board reported directly to the prime minister at the time, also provided written assurances to Goldman Sachs for each transaction that no intermediaries were involved," it said.