HK bans former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner for life

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in the Manhattan borough of New York January 24, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission banned former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Tim Leissner from the city’s financial industry for life.

Leissner, Goldman Sachs’s former Southeast Asia chairman, was banned from the U.S. and Singapore financial industries earlier for his role in helping divert billions of dollars from the Malaysian state fund 1MDB.

“Leissner’s conduct demonstrates a serious lack of honesty and integrity and called into question his fitness and properness to be a licensed person,” the SFC said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve 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. Low, who remains at large, 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. He has consistently denied the charges against him.

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 $43.7 million and admitted to bribing officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to get bond deals for Goldman Sachs.

The investment bank has sought to counter arguments that fault lies beyond a few employees, after Leissner said in his guilty plea that a culture of secrecy at Goldman Sachs led him to conceal wrongdoing from compliance staff.

“Tim Leissner deliberately hid certain activities from us and repeatedly violated our policies and procedures,” Edward Naylor, a representative for the bank said in an emailed statement. “We continue to cooperate with all authorities looking into these matters.”