the Malaysian government is coming back to haunt the firm and one of its
The fallout from the widening scandal hitting the white-shoe investment bank involves Tim Leissner, the Singapore-based chairman
of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operations, who has left that country and relocated
to Los Angeles on a leave of absence from the firm.
A state fund — 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) — was set up with Leissner’s
assistance, and Goldman was paid sky-high
commissions for bond sales. Then $681 million tied to the fund
mysteriously turned up in the bank account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib
The FBI is reportedly investigating all the
fund’s transactions in concert with wider probes of money-laundering
allegations spanning five countries.
Leissner, 45, who is married to Kimora Lee
Simmons, the former wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, lives a jet-setting
Kimora Lee, a businesswoman, designer and former model, last year opened a
fashion boutique on tony Beverly Drive in Los Angeles.
She also has important connections. Kimora Lee
is reportedly friendly with Razak’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.
The sum of three bond sales for 1MDB back in 2012 and 2013, totaling as much as
$6.5 billion, reportedly yielded fees,
commissions and expenses for Goldman of almost $593 million, the equivalent of
9.1 percent of the money raised. The typical cut for an investment bank
is about 5 percent.
“It is a known fact that there is a lot of
fraud, and under-the-table stuff like that happens if you are a bank and want
to get business done in foreign countries like Malaysia,”
At the center of the controversy is Leissner,
who left the country just as Malaysian officials began ratcheting up the heat
on the Malaysian prime minister.
e-mail to Leissner at Goldman came back with the message: “I am currently out of the office on personal leave
with no access to e-mails.”
1MDB came under intense criticism in the past for borrowing as much as $11
billion to finance dodgy acquisitions.
Goldman Sachs declined comment.