MAS moves to bar 1MDB bankers from securities sector

Mr Leissner issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on Goldman Sachs' behalf without its knowledge. Facing lifetime ban: Jens Sturzenegger Facing 15-year ban: Ms Yvonne Seah Facing lifetime ban: Mr Yak Yew C
Mr Leissner issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on Goldman Sachs' behalf without its knowledge.PHOTO: WIREIMAGE
Mr Leissner issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on Goldman Sachs' behalf without its knowledge. Facing lifetime ban: Jens Sturzenegger Facing 15-year ban: Ms Yvonne Seah Facing lifetime ban: Mr Yak Yew C
Facing lifetime ban: Mr Yak Yew Chee
Mr Leissner issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on Goldman Sachs' behalf without its knowledge. Facing lifetime ban: Jens Sturzenegger Facing 15-year ban: Ms Yvonne Seah Facing lifetime ban: Mr Yak Yew C
Facing lifetime ban: Jens Sturzenegger
Mr Leissner issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on Goldman Sachs' behalf without its knowledge. Facing lifetime ban: Jens Sturzenegger Facing 15-year ban: Ms Yvonne Seah Facing lifetime ban: Mr Yak Yew C
Facing 15-year ban: Ms Yvonne Seah

Ex-Goldman star dealmaker gets 10-year ban; three others face bans ranging from 15 years to life

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has banned former Goldman Sachs star dealmaker Tim Leissner from Singapore's securities industry for 10 years.

It also plans to slap prohibition orders on three others caught in the scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

MAS has served notice of its intention to ban Jens Sturzenegger, former branch manager of Falcon Private Bank in Singapore, and former BSI bankers Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, who were investigated and then convicted here over the 1MDB saga.

Given the gravity of their misconduct, MAS said it intends to issue lifetime bans against Sturzenegger and Mr Yak, and a 15-year ban against Ms Seah.

The Straits Times understands this could become the first lifetime prohibition orders implemented under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and Financial Advisers Act.

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

"MAS will not hesitate to bar such individuals from carrying out regulated activities in the financial industry," he added. "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."

Last year, the regulator withdrew the local banking licences of Falcon and BSI, and issued fines against UBS Group AG, DBS Group, Standard Chartered and Coutts for breaches related to 1MDB.

Mr Leissner, the former South- east Asia chairman at Goldman Sachs, who left the firm in February last year, was sanctioned because he issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on the bank's behalf without its knowledge, MAS said. It had signalled its intention to ban Mr Leissner last year.

He will be banned from performing any regulated activity under the SFA or managing any capital market services firm here for 10 years.

Similarly, the other three also face bans on performing any regulated activity or managing any capital market services firm in Singapore. They could be barred from providing any financial advisory service or managing a licensed financial adviser under the Financial Advisers Act.

Mr Leissner's lawyer, Mr Marc Harris, could not be immediately reached. Ms Seah's lawyer, Mr Peter Low, did not comment. Mr Yak respects MAS' decision, his lawyer Lee Teck Leng said.

Mr Tan Hee Joek, lawyer for Sturzenegger, who is now serving a 28-week jail sentence, declined to comment on whether his client will respond to MAS' notice.

Sturzenegger was also fined $128,000 in January after pleading guilty to six of 16 counts, including consenting in Falcon's failure to comply with Singapore's antimoney-laundering rules.

His lies had misdirected money- laundering probes into suspicious 1MDB transactions and hid Malaysian tycoon Jho Low's alleged role.

Mr Yak was handed an 18-week jail term last November and fined $24,000 for forgery and failing to disclose suspicious transactions allegedly related to Mr Low. Ms Seah was sentenced to two weeks in jail and fined $10,000 last December for similar offences.

Separately, Yeo Jiawei, another former BSI banker found guilty of attempting to tamper with witnesses in the 1MDB scandal, is appealing against his conviction and sentence.

Yeo was sentenced last December to a 30-month jail term, the longest yet handed down by a Singapore court in relation to the saga. He also faces money-laundering charges, which are set to be heard in court later this year.

A closed-door pre-trial conference on Yeo's case was held yesterday. No hearing has been fixed for his appeal, and no trial dates for the remaining charges have been fixed, according to his lawyer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'MAS moves to bar 1MDB bankers from securities sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe