Ex-Goldman banker barred from US securities industry

Former Goldman Sachs Group banker Tim Leissner, who was previously based in Singapore, has been barred from the US securities industry because he failed to cooperate with an investigation of alleged money laundering connected with Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) issued an indefinite bar on Sept 11, saying Mr Leissner did not submit to its requests during an investigation, according to his employment records on Finra's website. Mr Leissner accepted the findings without admitting or denying them, according to the self-regulatory body.

Mr Leissner, once Goldman Sachs's South-east Asia chairman, was an adviser to 1MDB, an investment fund set up in 2009 to help the nation build infrastructure.

1MDB ultimately became embroiled in allegations of financial irregularities that sparked probes in multiple countries. Mr Leissner left Goldman last year after questions about the fund, his work on an Indonesian mining deal and a reference letter he allegedly wrote.

Finra's probe was into the reference letter, which was "allegedly both inaccurate and unauthorized" by the firm, said the filing.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in December that it planned to bar Mr Leissner from its securities industry for 10 years because of the reference letter, which it said was on behalf of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, who has been linked to alleged efforts to siphon billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Critics questioned Goldman's earnings from arranging bond sales for 1MDB in 2012 and 2013. Goldman made about US$593 million from three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, dwarfing what banks typically make from government deals.

Goldman has previously defended the Malaysia fees as representing its underwriting risks and market conditions at the time.

The Wall Street Journal reported Finra's decision earlier on Tuesday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-Goldman banker barred from US securities industry'. Print Edition | Subscribe