Goldman Sachs’ South Asia boss departs amid corruption cloud

Tim Leissner, who was chairman of Goldman Sachs’ Southeast Asia division, left the firm in early February, the bank confirmed yesterday

Kimora Lee Simmons and Tim Leissner enjoy the high life in Beverly Hills California
Kimora Lee Simmons and Tim Leissner enjoy the high life in Beverly Hills California

One of Goldman Sachs’ senior investment bankers has left the institution amid an ongoing corruption scandal in Malaysia linked to a state investment fund the bank previously advised.

Tim Leissner, who was chairman of Goldman Sachs’ Southeast Asia division, left the firm in early February, the bank confirmed yesterday. Mr Leissner had previously been reported to have been on “personal leave”.

His exit comes amid growing protests against Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his ties to the country’s sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The fund, which was set up by Mr Razak in 2009, spooked investors last year by missing interest payments on $11bn (£8bn) worth of debt.

The Wall Street Journal subsequently said it had seen evidence showing $680m had been transferred from 1MDB into Mr Razak’s personal bank account. 1MDB and Mr Razak deny any wrongdoing.

Goldman has become embroiled in the scandal because it helped 1MDB issue bonds and took an unusually high fee from the deals.

As chairman of Goldman’s operations in the region, Mr Leissner was a pivotal figure in helping build the bank’s presence in Malaysia.

The German-born banker has also come under the spotlight due to his marriage to Kimora Lee Simmons, a fashion designer. She is the former wife of the Def Jam record label co-founder Russell Simmons, who helped popularise rap stars such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. They both live in Los Angeles and are a regular fixture on the glamorous Hollywood party circuit.

Rumours of close connections between Mr Leissner and the Razaks were fuelled when Ms Lee Simmons posted a picture online of her and Mr Razak’s wife, whom she called her “friend”.

Mr Leissner joined Goldman in the late 1990s before becoming a partner in 2006. At the time he was heading investment banking in Singapore. He was named Southeast Asia chair in July 2014.

Goldman reportedly earned bumper fees from 1MDB on a number of bond deals it structured for the bank in 2012 and 2013. One issue worth $3bn netted Goldman about 10 per cent of the bond issue in fees, an unusually high level for such a deal.

1MDB unnerved markets at the end of December 2014 after it missed interest payments to bond holders on another $560m bridge loan.

1MDB was set up as a state entity by Mr Razak in a bid to boost foreign direct investment into the country as well as invest in the nation’s ageing infrastructure.

It agreed a number of joint ventures with Chinese and Middle Eastern investors to work on co-development projects in the years after it was founded. A Malaysian parliamentary committee is currently looking into the allegations against 1MDB, while the country’s auditor general is set to release a report on the fund’s activities this week.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in