Fed bans ex-Goldman bankers from industry after 1MDB fiasco

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WASHINGTON (March 12): Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng were banned from the industry by the U.S. Federal Reserve for their role in helping divert billions of dollars from the Malaysian state fund 1MDB.

Leissner and Ng coordinated bond offerings that allowed funds to be stolen from 1MDB, the Fed said in a Tuesday statement. Some of the money was used to bribe government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, and criminals also used proceeds to pay for lavish lifestyles, according to regulator.

Leissner, who agreed to the Fed’s permanent ban, was fined US$1.42 million, according to the statement. He has already pleaded guilty to charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department, including conspiring to launder money.

Ng, Leissner’s deputy at Goldman Sachs, was indicted on similar charges in October. Last month, Malaysia said it will extradite Ng to the U.S. after he has completed legal proceedings in local courts.

The Fed has ramped up an investigation into how Goldman Sachs bankers dodged the firm’s internal controls to raise billions for 1MDB that later went missing, Bloomberg News reported in November, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Fed accused Leissner of participating in a scheme with Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho and others to divert money from “several” 1MDB transactions, including three bond offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs in 2012 and 2013, according to an order dated March 11. Low, a controversial financier, has been accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the Malaysian fund and using some of it to buy gifts for famous models and film actors.

Leissner in August pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that he conspired to launder money and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As part of the charges, he agreed to forfeit US$43.7 million and admitted to bribing officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to get bond deals for Goldman Sachs.

Leissner said he and others arranged the 1MDB fundraising as debt offerings, because it would generate higher fees for the bank. He has said said his behaviour was in line with the “culture of Goldman Sachs to conceal facts from certain compliance and legal employees.”