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

Former Goldman Sachs director Tim Leissner has pleaded guilty to these charges for conspiracy to commit money laundering, and in violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) slapped a lifetime ban on former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner on Wednesday (Dec 19), after he admitted to criminal charges brought against him by the United States Department of Justice over his role in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Leissner was earlier issued a 10-year prohibition order from the MAS in March for making false statements on behalf of his bank without its knowledge or consent. He was also found to have issued an unauthorised reference letter on behalf of Goldman Sachs (Asia) to a financial institution based in Luxembourg.

The lifetime ban, which also extends the scope of the original prohibition order, will prevent Leissner from performing any regulated activity under the Securities and Futures Act and from managing any capital markets services firm in Singapore, said the MAS.

He is also forbidden from acting as a director, or becoming a substantial shareholder or a capital market services licensee under the Act.

Leissner was charged in the US on Nov 1, and pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to obtain and retain business from 1MDB for Goldman Sachs by promising to pay bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.

He had also embezzled funds from 1MDB for himself and laundered these bribes, kickbacks and funds through financial systems in the US and elsewhere.

His guilty plea provided more evidence of his involvement in fund flows related to 1MDB, which was previously not available to the MAS when it issued the earlier prohibition order, it said in a statement.

"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," said the statement.

The MAS said it will consider any new evidence related to the 1MDB fund flows and take further enforcement actions where appropriate.

The former investment banker had spent years courting Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, according to court filings in the US. Leissner managed Goldman's relationship with 1MDB, leaving Goldman in 2016 when the scandal first came to light.

Roger Ng, Leissner's former deputy who left the bank in 2014, also faces criminal charges in the US. Ng is in Singapore and intends to fight extradition to the US, according to the New York Times. Low remains at large.

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