Singapore to ban ex-Goldman banker amid 1MDB probe


Tim Leissner, the previous star dealmaker for Goldman Sachs in Southeast Asia, is to be banned from Singapore’s securities business for 10 years over breaches referring to the multibillion-greenback scandal at Malaysia’s troubled state funding fund 1MDB, whereas Normal Chartered and Coutts have each been fined.

Mr Leissner, who joined Goldman in Asia in 1998 and helped increase $6bn for 1MDB with three bond issuances, is being punished by the Financial Authority of Singapore in relation to an unauthorised reference letter that vouched for Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman alleged by US authorities to have laundered funds diverted from 1MDB and to have lived a lavish way of life on the proceeds. Mr Low has beforehand denied wrongdoing.

Goldman is just not accused of any wrongdoing by the MAS, however the regulator confirmed that it was working with overseas counterparts on an examination of the financial institution’s position within the 1MDB bond transactions.

Goldman earned a $300m payment for a 2013 bond deal, which raised $3bn. The financial institution has since turn out to be embroiled in a scandal over allegations of grand corruption referring to 1MDB.

Swiss authorities allege that as much as $four.8bn was diverted from corporations linked to 1MDB. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been buffeted by claims that $681m was transferred into his private checking account.

Mr Najib denies wrongdoing and has been cleared by Malaysia’s lawyer-common.

Mr Leissner, who left Goldman in February, managed the shopper relationship with 1MDB for all of its three bond points from 2012 to 2013. 

A staff of Goldman employees, primarily from Hong Kong but in addition from Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, organized the bond points, they usually have been absolutely underwritten by London-based mostly Goldman Sachs Worldwide, the MAS stated.

Mr Leissner was discovered by MAS to have issued an unauthorised reference letter, utilizing Goldman letterhead, to a monetary establishment based mostly in Luxembourg in June 2015.

The letter said that Goldman had carried out due diligence on Jho Low and his household, and had not detected any cash-laundering considerations with respect to both, MAS stated.

“These statements have been unfaithful and have been made by Mr Leissner with out Goldman Sachs’ information or consent,” the MAS stated.

Marc S Harris, Los Angeles-based mostly lawyer for Mr Leissner, stated that his shopper had been invited by MAS to answer the allegations towards him and appeared ahead to doing so.

“Previous to at the moment, Mr Leissner had not heard of any contemplated regulatory motion by the MAS and had not been contacted by the MAS or given any alternative to answer the MAS relating to the allegations raised,” the lawyer’s assertion stated.

Mr Harris famous that no order or sanctions had been imposed on Mr Leissner by any regulatory authority. MAS stated within the assertion that it had “served discover of its intention to problem a prohibition order” towards Mr Leissner.

Goldman on Friday stated that it was co-working with the MAS, and defended its response to the affair.

“Right now’s announcement refers to a matter we found in January of this yr and recognized as a transparent violation of the agency’s requirements,” it stated in a press release. “At the moment we promptly took steps to separate Mr Leissner from the agency and reported the matter to regulatory authorities in a number of jurisdictions, together with Singapore.”

The MAS stated it had fined StanChart S$5.2m (US$three.65m) for breaches of anti-cash laundering laws with regard to 1MDB-associated fund flows. It stated that whereas these regulatory breaches have been critical, it had not discovered pervasive management weaknesses or wilful misconduct on the financial institution.

StanChart expressed remorse “that 1MDB-associated transactions handed by means of Normal Chartered Financial institution Singapore accounts from 2010 to early 2013”.

The suspicious transactions have been reported to authorities earlier than StanChart closed the accounts in early 2013, the financial institution stated, including that disciplinary motion had been taken towards particular person staff.

Transfers totalling $636m have been despatched in 2012 from a Swiss checking account to a StanChart account in Singapore held within the identify of what US authorities say was a “shell company created… to funnel diverted cash”. The useful proprietor of the StanChart account was an affiliate of Mr Low, US prosecutors allege.

The MAS fined Coutts in Singapore S$2.4m for breaches of anti-cash-laundering laws and failing to satisfy due diligence necessities for politically uncovered individuals.

These failings have been the results of “actions or omissions” of staff who’ve since left the financial institution, the MAS stated. These staff included Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah, who left Coutts to hitch BSI financial institution in Singapore in late 2009.

Mr Yak was convicted of forging paperwork and failing to report suspicious transactions and jailed for 18 weeks at a Singapore courtroom final month. The courtroom heard that Mr Low was Mr Yak’s most essential shopper at BSI. Neither Mr Low nor Coutts might instantly be reached for remark.

Ravi Menon, MAS managing director, stated the central financial institution’s robust actions for lapses on anti-financial laundering controls “ship a robust sign that we’ll not tolerate the abuse of Singapore’s monetary system for illicit functions”.

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