1MDB scandal: Next suspect Goldman Sachs banker

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Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and his wife
Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and his wife

Despite tireless attempts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to die down the furor over alleged malversation and other misdeeds revolving around scandal-ridden state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the issue seems to be reaching worrying levels for him.

In a latest development, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, is now probing the connection between a regional top executive of global investment bank Goldman Sachs to Razak and the nature of the former’s involvement in multi-billion dollar deals with 1MDB. The executive is Tim Leissner, Singapore-based chairman of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operations, a role he took over in 2014. Before that, he was head of investment banking in Southeast Asia for the investment firm.

FB Kimora
Leissner, his wife, PM Razak and Azman Mokhtar, Managing Director of Malaysia’s state fund Khazanah Nasional (from left)

The New York Times reported that Leissner enjoyed a “cozy relationship” with the Malaysian government and seems to have benefited in the millions from the Goldman Sachs deals he did with 1MDB that now turned sour.

At the end of January, Leissner reportedly left Singapore and went back to the US to take a “personal leave” from his job. No other explanation was provided and Leissner was unable for comment.

He was involved in three 1MDB bond sales in 2012 and 2013 totaling $6.5 billion which yielded fees, commissions and expenses for Goldman Sachs of $593 million, or about 9 per cent of the money raised, the paper reported. The “normal” cut in such deals for an investment firm is about 5 per cent.

The sale of the bonds brought 1MDB more than a half of the $11 billion which it is “missing” since 2015.

Leissner reportedly was one of the highest-paid Goldman Sachs employees and used to a jet-set lifestyle. In 2013, he married former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons, who frequently facebooked, instagramed and tweeted about her close friendship with Razak’s powerful wife Rosmah Mansor.

Kimora_Rosmah
Connections: Simmons with Rosmah Mansor (left), wife of Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak

All this obviously opened him many avenues to the powerful and influential in Malaysia’s business and politics scene, most of all to Razak himself and his friend, financier and agent Jho Low, who is associated with numerous and sometimes opaque high-value transactions, including acquisitions of businesses, luxury real estate and art.

The investigation of the FBI, which has been probing all suspicious 1MDB’s transactions and looked whether US citizens and companies were involved, could bring Goldman Sachs a congressional inquiry on the matter. Analyst believe the issue could “develop into a disaster” for Goldman Sachs as it seems to be “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Meanwhile in Malaysia, things are again becoming hairy for the prime minister. Despite he has been cleared of any 1MDB-related wrongdoing by the country’s Attorney General, a post for which he last year hand-picked a confidant, Malaysia’s anti-graft commission is not impressed and has reportedly recommended three charges for Razak under Section 403 of the Penal Code which deals with “dishonest misappropriation of property”. It is understood that the charges are made in connection with suspicious transfers of funds Najib’s bank personal accounts.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and his wife

Despite tireless attempts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to die down the furor over alleged malversation and other misdeeds revolving around scandal-ridden state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the issue seems to be reaching worrying levels for him.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and his wife
Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and his wife

Despite tireless attempts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to die down the furor over alleged malversation and other misdeeds revolving around scandal-ridden state-fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the issue seems to be reaching worrying levels for him.

In a latest development, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, is now probing the connection between a regional top executive of global investment bank Goldman Sachs to Razak and the nature of the former’s involvement in multi-billion dollar deals with 1MDB. The executive is Tim Leissner, Singapore-based chairman of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operations, a role he took over in 2014. Before that, he was head of investment banking in Southeast Asia for the investment firm.

FB Kimora
Leissner, his wife, PM Razak and Azman Mokhtar, Managing Director of Malaysia’s state fund Khazanah Nasional (from left)

The New York Times reported that Leissner enjoyed a “cozy relationship” with the Malaysian government and seems to have benefited in the millions from the Goldman Sachs deals he did with 1MDB that now turned sour.

At the end of January, Leissner reportedly left Singapore and went back to the US to take a “personal leave” from his job. No other explanation was provided and Leissner was unable for comment.

He was involved in three 1MDB bond sales in 2012 and 2013 totaling $6.5 billion which yielded fees, commissions and expenses for Goldman Sachs of $593 million, or about 9 per cent of the money raised, the paper reported. The “normal” cut in such deals for an investment firm is about 5 per cent.

The sale of the bonds brought 1MDB more than a half of the $11 billion which it is “missing” since 2015.

Leissner reportedly was one of the highest-paid Goldman Sachs employees and used to a jet-set lifestyle. In 2013, he married former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons, who frequently facebooked, instagramed and tweeted about her close friendship with Razak’s powerful wife Rosmah Mansor.

Kimora_Rosmah
Connections: Simmons with Rosmah Mansor (left), wife of Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak

All this obviously opened him many avenues to the powerful and influential in Malaysia’s business and politics scene, most of all to Razak himself and his friend, financier and agent Jho Low, who is associated with numerous and sometimes opaque high-value transactions, including acquisitions of businesses, luxury real estate and art.

The investigation of the FBI, which has been probing all suspicious 1MDB’s transactions and looked whether US citizens and companies were involved, could bring Goldman Sachs a congressional inquiry on the matter. Analyst believe the issue could “develop into a disaster” for Goldman Sachs as it seems to be “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Meanwhile in Malaysia, things are again becoming hairy for the prime minister. Despite he has been cleared of any 1MDB-related wrongdoing by the country’s Attorney General, a post for which he last year hand-picked a confidant, Malaysia’s anti-graft commission is not impressed and has reportedly recommended three charges for Razak under Section 403 of the Penal Code which deals with “dishonest misappropriation of property”. It is understood that the charges are made in connection with suspicious transfers of funds Najib’s bank personal accounts.

 

 

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