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Goldman Sachs executive and other bankers banned over 1MDB-linked breaches
14/03/2017 , John Evans, International Editor

A 10-year prohibition order has been imposed by Singapore against Tim Leissner, a former director of Goldman Sachs Singapore as the notorious billion-dollar 1MDB Malaysia sovereign wealth fund corruption scandal continues to claim new victims. Other bankers working for Falcon Bank and BSI, banks already mired in the affair, are also being banned for life in some cases.

In its official notice, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that last December it served notice of its intention to issue the prohibition order  against Mr Leissner and invited him to submit written representations as to why a such a ban should not be made against him.

“Mr Leissner was found to have issued in June 2015 an unauthorised letter to a financial institution based in Luxembourg, and to have made false statements on behalf of Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C., without the firm’s knowledge,” it said.

MAS said, following careful consideration of the representations made by Mr Leissner and the relevant facts, it is issuing the order against him, banning him performing any regulated activity under the Securities and Futures Act and taking part, directly or indirectly, in the management of any capital market services firm in Singapore.

The regulator also went on to serve a notice of its intention to issue similar banning orders against three individuals who were investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department on 1MDB-related matters, and consequently convicted by the Courts in Singapore.

The three are Jens Fred Sturzenegger, former branch manager of Falcon Private Bank Ltd, the Singapore branch of Mid-East owned Falcon Bank, as well as Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah Yew Foong, both of whom were former employees of BSI Bank.

Given   the gravity of their misconduct, MAS said intends to issue lifetime bans against Messrs Sturzenegger and Mr Yak, and a 15-year ban against Ms Seah.

The MAS said that as branch manager, Mr Sturzenegger was responsible for ensuring the sound management of Falcon Bank and its compliance with regulations, notices and directives issued by MAS, as well as any other relevant laws and regulations.

On 11 January 2017, Mr Sturzenegger was convicted on several charges, which included consenting to Falcon Bank’s failure to file any suspicious transaction report on the inflows into Falcon Bank; failing to disclose information on suspicious outflows from Falcon Bank; and furnishing false information to MAS to cover up his relationship with  Low Taek Jho as well as his knowledge of Mr Low’s involvement in the bank accounts maintained by Falcon Bank.

Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, is an absent Malaysian businessman who US officials allege is at the centre of the 1MDB corruption. He has been has been fighting to prevent his range luxury assets, including a stake in EMI Music, a Manhattan penthouse and a private jet, being seized by US officials.

Mr Yak was a senior private banker with BSI Bank between 2010 and 2016 and held the designation of managing director.  He was the relationship manager for Mr Low and Mr Low’s father. As the second most senior private banker after Mr Yak in the latter’s team, Ms Seah closely assisted Mr Yak in managing the relationship with Mr Low and his father.

On 11 November 2016, Mr Yak was convicted on charges of forging reference letters to entities based in Switzerland, using the letterhead of BSI Bank. On 16 December 2016, Ms Seah was convicted for intentionally aiding Mr Yak to forge reference letters. The letters were issued to misrepresent Mr Low’s net worth or conceal the source of Mr Low’s fund transfers. Mr Yak and Ms Seah had also failed to report the suspicious movement of funds by Mr Low.

Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director for financial supervision at the 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. It is imperative that industry professionals and representatives of financial institutions are fit and proper persons."

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