Singapore’s MAS Bans Former Goldman Sachs Banker Amid 1MDB Scandal

Tim Reissner is being punished by the Singapore authorities for breaches relating to his dealings with 1MDB.

Singapore’s authorities have announced sanctions on Tim Leissner, Goldman Sachs’ former top dealmaker in Southeast Asia, for breaches in connection with the multibillion-dollar scandal at Malaysia’s state investment fund 1MDB. Standard Chartered and Coutts have also both been fined.

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Ten Year Ban

Leissner, who was with Goldman in Asia since 1998 until parting ways with the lender amid the probe, is being punished by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) after he allegedly wrote an unauthorised reference letter for a Malaysian financier, Jho Low, who US authorities remain convinced is at the center of one of the world’s largest-ever financial scandals. 

Although Goldman has not been accused of any wrongdoing by MAS, the regulator is reportedly working with foreign counterparts on an examination of the bank’s role in the 1MDB bond transactions.

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According to a MAS statement, the regulator who decided to ban Leissner from working in the city state’s financial markets for 10 years, said the former Goldman banker had written the letter to a Luxembourg financial institution claiming that Goldman had done due diligence on Low and had not found any concerns of money laundering. “These statements were untrue and were made by Leissner without Goldman Sachs’ knowledge or consent,” it said.

In a lawsuit earlier this year, the US Department of Justice alleged that over $3 billion had been siphoned out of the fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., and gone into real estate, Hollywood movies and other assets. It claimed that Low had benefited from some of the stolen money. Leissner had managed the client relationship with 1MDB for all of its three bond issues from 2012 to 2013. The 1MDB fund has denied any wrongdoing.

Standard Chartered & Coutts Fined

The MAS has also levied million-dollar fines on the local branches of Standard Chartered and Coutts & Co for their handling of accounts related to the 1MDB scandal. It fined Standard Chartered US$3.6 million, and imposed a fine of US $1.7 million on Coutts in connection with the suspicious transactions, breaches of anti-money-laundering regulations and failing to meet due diligence requirements for politically exposed persons.

MAS managing director, Ravi Menon, said the central bank’s tough actions for lapses on anti-monetary laundering controls “send a strong signal that we will not tolerate the abuse of Singapore’s financial system for illicit purposes”.

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