1MDB scandal: Goldman's star deal-maker Tim Leissner lived the high life

Mr Leissner and his wife, model Kimora Lee Simmons, at a Golden Globes party in 2014. After the 1MDB scandal broke, Goldman found that he allegedly violated company policies.
Mr Leissner and his wife, model Kimora Lee Simmons, at a Golden Globes party in 2014. After the 1MDB scandal broke, Goldman found that he allegedly violated company policies.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Leissner, who faces ban on working in securities industry in S'pore over 1MDB case, 'worked hard and partied hard'

The banker facing a 10-year ban from working in the securities industry here over his alleged role in the 1MDB scandal was a star deal-maker for Goldman Sachs who lived the high life with his model wife.

Mr Tim Leissner, who was the firm's South-east Asia chairman, issued an unauthorised reference letter to a financial institution based in Luxembourg in June last year using the Goldman Sachs letterhead.

The letter stated that Goldman Sachs had not found any money- laundering concerns surrounding Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and his family.

But the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said these statements were untrue and were made by Mr Leissner without Goldman Sachs' knowledge or consent.

United States officials claim Mr Low, also known as Jho Low, diverted US$3.5 billion (S$4.9 billion) from 1MDB in a money-laundering operation.

RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS

Prior to today, Mr Leissner had not heard of any contemplated action by the MAS. He has been invited by the MAS to respond to the allegations raised... and he looks forward to doing so.

MR LEISSNER'S LAWYER, in a statement yesterday. MAS intends to bar Mr Leissner from taking part in the management of any capital market services firm in Singapore for 10 years.

 
  • How MAS rules were breached

  • Here is a list of breaches of the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) money laundering requirements in fund flows linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

    STANCHART

    • Inspected for 1MDB-related flows from 2010 to 2013.

    • Lapses were found in customer due diligence measures and controls for ongoing monitoring.

    • Control lapses were due to inadequacies in policies and procedures, insufficient independent oversight of front-office staff and lack of awareness of money laundering risks.

    • A fine of $5.2 million was imposed for 28 breaches.

    COUTTS

    • Necessary due diligence on politically exposed persons was not exercised due to the actions or omissions of former employees.

    • Penalties amounted to $2.4 million for 24 breaches between 2003 and 2009.

    TIM LEISSNER

    • Hong Kong-based Mr Leissner, who managed the client relationship with 1MDB for Goldman Sachs, was found to have issued an unauthorised reference letter to a financial institution using the bank's letterhead, without its knowledge or consent.

    • The letter stated Goldman Sachs conducted due diligence on Mr Low Taek Jho - a person of interest in the probe - and his family, and did not detect any money laundering concerns.

    • MAS has served notice of its intention to issue a prohibition order against Mr Leissner to bar him from dealing in securities-related matters in Singapore for 10 years.

Mr Leissner joined Goldman in 1998 and was made the head of investment banking here in 2002.

Colleagues told the Financial Times that he was someone who worked hard, partied hard and boasted high-profile connections.

Mr Leissner moved to Hong Kong in November 2011 but maintained his representative status with Goldman Singapore and was therefore subject to MAS' requirements to being fit and proper to carry out regulated activities, MAS said yesterday.

He managed the client relationship with state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) for all its three bond issues from 2012 to 2013, added MAS. Bloomberg had earlier reported sources as saying that Goldman pocketed as much as US$593 million from the three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1MDB in 2012 and 2013.

Mr Leissner reportedly met his wife Kimora Lee Simmons, 41, on a flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. It began with an argument and ended with a marriage proposal, according to an interview in The Wall Street Journal. The couple have a one-year-old son, Wolfe.

Ms Lee Simmons was previously married to American media mogul Russell Simmons, who co-founded hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings. Her social media accounts chronicle her jet-set life with Mr Leissner, including yacht trips in the Caribbean. In snapshots posted on Twitter, she is seen with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife.

After the 1MDB scandal broke, Goldman found that Mr Leissner allegedly violated company policies. He went on personal leave and later resigned in February. While on leave, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he has a 9,405 sq ft house with seven bedrooms, a gym, tennis court and a guest house, Bloomberg reported.

US investigators subpoenaed him in February over his 1MDB role.

MAS intends to bar Mr Leissner from taking part in the management of any capital market services firm in Singapore for 10 years.

Mr Leissner's lawyer said in a statement yesterday: "Prior to today, Mr Leissner had not heard of any contemplated action by the MAS. He has been invited by the MAS to respond to the allegations raised... and he looks forward to doing so."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Goldman's star deal-maker lived the high life'. Print Edition | Subscribe