MAS imposes lifetime ban on former Goldman banker

Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to obtain and retain business from 1MDB for the bank by promising to pay bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to obtain and retain business from 1MDB for the bank by promising to pay bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

This follows his guilty plea to criminal charges brought against him in the US over his role in 1MDB scandal

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

Leissner was issued a 10-year prohibition order by 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, MAS said in a statement.

He is also forbidden from acting as a director and 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, Malaysia's state investment fund, 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, said the 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," it added.

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

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

The former investment banker spent years courting Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, according to US court filings. He managed Goldman Sachs' relationship with 1MDB, and left the bank in 2016 when the scandal came to light.

Roger Ng, Leissner's former deputy who left the bank in 2014, also faces criminal charges in the United States. Ng, who is in Malaysia, is fighting extradition to the US.

Low remains at large.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2018, with the headline 'MAS imposes lifetime ban on former Goldman banker'. Print Edition | Subscribe