Chairman of Goldman Sachs SE Asia operations quits as FBI swoops in on scandal involving Malaysian Prime Minister

Tim Leissner, the senior executive who helped Goldman Sachs build its Malaysian business, has left the company under a very dark cloud which has put an end to his career as one of Wall Street’s most famous and high profile figures. Mr. Leissner was involved in the sale of US dollar bonds for a state fund […]

Chairman of Goldman Sachs SE Asia operations quits

Tim Leissner, the senior executive who helped Goldman Sachs build its Malaysian business, has left the company under a very dark cloud which has put an end to his career as one of Wall Street’s most famous and high profile figures.

Mr. Leissner was involved in the sale of US dollar bonds for a state fund in Malaysia which was intended to boost the country’s economy, however allegations of corruption emerged, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the United States and authorities in Switzerland have begun investigating claims that approximately £2.8 billion had disappeared from the Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and had indeed been misappropriated.

Tim Leissner and Kimora Lee Simmons

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, whose copybook was blotted by a case which was brought against him accusing him of corruption in his own country, concerning a donation of £475 million to his personal bank accounts in the advent of his election in 2013. He was since cleared of any corruption allegations and walked free.

Mr. Leissner, who is married to model Kimora Lee Simmons, has enjoyed a life at the very top of South East Asian society, resembling star status.

His close relationships with highly influential people in the Arabian Gulf region as well as South East Asia, including billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who announced that a corporation which he owned was to take over energy firm Malakoff Bhd in what it termed “the largest acquisition ever undertaken in Malaysia.” Goldman Sachs was an adviser on the deal, and in 2006, Mr. Leissner became a partner in the company.

Subsequently, that company assisted the management of billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan’s 2009 initial public offering (IPO) of Maxis Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest wireless operator. Mr Krishnan also controlled Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd., the largest pay-TV broadcaster, and Goldman Sachs had involvement in its IPO, with Mr. Leissner at the helm.

Whilst Goldman Sachs has offered no comment to any media source with relation to this particular scandal, Mr. Leissner has been issued with a subpoena by the US authorities. This means that he may be obliged to testify in court or provide documents.

It emerged in January that Mr. Leissner had relocated to Los Angeles and taken ‘personal leave’.

The Attorney General of the Malaysian government has stated publicly that the money had originally belonged to the Saudi Arabian royal family, however Switzerland’s criminal investigation has detailed that money from 1MDB was transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current public officials from the UAE.’

Mr. Leissner began his extremely ambitious journey in the Far East approximately 10 years ago, when he appeared on an interview in Malaysia with a government-owned news agency, about 3 years before the current prime minister, Najib Razak, assumed office in 2009.

In 2006, Goldman Sachs had an application to begin operations for fund management and corporate finance approved, and Mr. Leissner began embarking on very high profile business deals and courted the media.

By the time Prime Minister Najib Razak assumed office, Mr. Leissner and his wife had escalated to the very top of Malaysia’s social circles, with their presence at Najib Razak’s pre-election speech at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco in 2013 being among the top level of guests, with Kimorna Lee Simmons and Mr. Leissner photographed alongside Nijab Razak and his wife.

The investigations by the FBI and Swiss authorities are continuing, and probes into whether Goldman Sachs misled 1MDB bondholders or broke anti-corruption laws are well underway.

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