SINGAPORE – Former Southeast Asia director of Goldman Sachs Tim Leissner, who is facing corruption charges in the United States and Malaysia, has been given a lifetime ban from working in the capital markets of Singapore, authorities said on Wednesday.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in a statement that the measure was taken after Leissner pleaded guilty in November to charges pressed by the US department of justice related to violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practice Act and money laundering.
“The US DOJ’s charges and Mr. Leissner’s guilty plea have provided further evidence of Mr. Leissner’s involvement in funds flows related to 1MDB,” said the agency, referring to the international corruption scandal in Malaysia’s state owned investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Singapore had initially issued a 10-year prohibition order against Leissner on March 13, 2017, which banned him from participating in any activities coming under the purview of its securities law and capital market services.
Earlier this week, Malaysian prosecutors demanded a 10-year prison sentence for Leissner while pressing criminal charges against him, his Goldman Sachs colleague Roger Ng Chong Nwa as well as Jasmine Loo Ai Swan and Low Taek Jho – popularly known as Jho Low – two key figures in the now-defunct 1MDB.
According to the prosecutors, Leissner, Ng, Loo and Jho Low filed false or misleading declarations in order to embezzle $2.7 billion from three series of bonds with a total value of $6.5 billion which 1MDB issued between 2012-2013.
Leissner and Ng also allegedly “incited” Loo and Jho Low to bribe Malaysian officials to ensure that Goldman Sachs secured the right to manage the bonds.
Goldman Sachs officially charged a fee of $600 million for the contract, an unusually high amount, in addition to the embezzled funds and the benefits received by executives and employees of the company, according to the Malaysian attorney general.
Jho Low, a fugitive businessman, is considered a key figure in the 1MDB scandal, which has resulted in former prime minister Najib Razak being prosecuted in Malaysia.
After coming to power in 2009, Najib created 1MDB as a state asset with the stated aim of attracting investment projects and boosting development in the country.
In 2015, a media investigation uncovered the diversion of funds worth 2.6 billion ringgit (worth $681 million at the time) from 1MDB to Najib’s private accounts.
The US department of justice estimated that in total around $4.5 billion were diverted from 1MDB, of which about $1 billion could have been laundered in the US through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewelry and works of art, among other goods.