Ex-Goldman Banker Barred by SEC Over Role in 1MDB Scandal

Tim Leissner consented to the SEC’s finding that he violated federal securities laws, according to an announcement from the commission.

Goldman Sachs offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Nadirah Zakariya/Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

(Nadirah Zakariya/Bloomberg)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has barred a former Goldman Sachs managing director from the securities industry after finding that he bribed high-ranking officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.

The SEC on Monday announced charges against Tim Leissner for his involvement in an alleged bribery scheme that allowed Goldman to obtain business from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including underwriting $6.5 billion in bond offerings.

According to the announcement, Leissner received more than $43 million in “illicit payments” for his role in facilitating the alleged scheme.

“Individual conduct lies at the heart of all bribery schemes,” Charles Cain, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA unit, said in a statement. “Here, Leissner abused his leadership role at Goldman Sachs by engaging in a massive bribery scheme targeting the highest levels of two foreign governments in order to bring in lucrative business to the firm and enrich himself.”

The SEC said that Leissner consented to its order, which found that he violated the anti-bribery, internal accounting controls, and books and records provisions of federal securities laws. The former Goldman managing director also agreed to be permanently barred from the securities industry.

According to the announcement, the SEC is requiring Leissner to pay disgorgement of $43.7 million. This will be offset by anything he paid previously as a part of a resolution from parallel criminal action by the U.S. Department of Justice.


“As we have previously said, Leissner has admitted to lying and deceiving the firm as part of his crimes,” a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs said via email Monday.

[II Deep Dive: Fed Bans Former Goldman Bankers Over Malaysian Fund Scandal]

The SEC order follows an earlier decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which in March announced that it had banned Leissner from the banking industry for his role in the 1MDB scandal.

Leissner pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to launder money and to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices in August 2018. He is set to be sentenced in June 2020, the court docket shows.

Leissner’s lawyer, Robert O’Neill of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP, did not return a phone call and an email seeking comment.