MAS bans ex-Goldman Sachs banker

Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, NJ.

The Singapore authorities have banned ex-Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner from its securities industry for 10 years and plans to bar three other individuals over breaches related to the scandal-ridden Malaysian state-run investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) served notice on its move to ban Leissner, a one-time renowned Asean dealmaker, in December.

The move is being punished over an unauthorised reference letter in favour of Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman alleged by the US authorities to have laundered funds from 1MDB.

Leissner, who left Goldman Sachs in February 2016, was sanctioned because he issued an unauthorised letter to a financial institution and made false statements on behalf of the US bank without its knowledge, MAS announced.

The regulator said it intended to exclude three other bankers convicted in Singapore courts for their role in 1MDB dealings: Jens Sturzenegger, a Swiss national who managed Falcon Bank in Singapore and Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah, of the Swiss bank BSI in the Lion City.

Sturzenegger and Yak would be barred for life, while Seah is excluded for 15 years under the proposals.

MAS withdrew the Singapore banking licences from Falcon and BSI last year and issued fines against UBS Group AG, DBS Group Holdings and Standard Chartered.

Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director at MAS, said: “MAS will not tolerate conduct by any finance professional that threatens to undermine trust and confidence in Singapore’s financial system. MAS will not hesitate to bar such individuals from carrying out regulated activities in the financial industry.”

Sturzenegger was jailed for 28 weeks and fined S$128,000 (US$91,000) earlier this year after being convicted on six charges, including the failure to report suspicious transactions. Yak was jailed for 18 weeks and fined for forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions allegedly related to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and his father. Seah was jailed for two weeks over similar offences.

Low has been linked to alleged efforts to siphon billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Goldman Sachs announced after December notice: “[The] announcement refers to a matter we discovered in January 2016 and identified as a clear violation of the firm’s standards. At that time we promptly took steps to separate Mr Leissner from the firm and reported the matter to regulatory authorities in several jurisdictions, including Singapore. We continue to cooperate with the MAS.”

Picture credit: Wikimedia