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All That’s Goldman Does Not Glitter

December 17, 2019

by Howard Haykin



Once upon a time, Goldman Sachs was considered Public Enemy #1 for its role in the mid-2000’s global financial crisis, and was branded as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” The firm has since rehabbed its reputation to the point where Goldman Sachs has been named as Vault’s most prestigious investment bank - for 10 years running.
[Vault Inc. is perhaps best known for its rankings, rating and reviews on thousands of employers – which are regularly cited in financial news publications.]



That may change now that former Goldman Sachs managing director Tim Leissner agreed to forfeit $43.7 million in illicit payments that he received for his role in using a 3rd-party intermediary to bribe high-ranking foreign government officials in order to secure lucrative businesses for Goldman Sachs. The forfeiture was part of Leissner's settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which also barred Leissner from the industry.


Two aspects of the settlement seem rather non-sensical: (i) Leissner will not incur any other monetary penalties beyond his $43.7 million forfeiture; and, (ii) the deal comes a long time after he pleaded guilty to federal prosecutors – in August 2018.



ACCORDING TO THE SEC COMPLAINT, … this matter relates to a massive corruption scheme perpetrated by Leissner while acting as a senior executive of Goldman Sachs. Leissner, in coordination with other Goldman Sachs senior executives, authorized and paid bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials in order to secure lucrative business for Goldman Sachs, which earned the investment bank at least $600 million.


The bribes spawned 3 bond offerings issued between 2009 and 2012 by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDb) – a Malaysian state-owned investment fund created to pursue projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia. All told, $6.5 billion was raised in the Goldman 1MDb deals and, later on it was later discovered that up to $4.5 billion of that $6.5 billion had been disappeared - i.e., diverted or siphoned off.



[For further details on Leissner settlement, click on: SEC Press ReleaseSEC ComplaintNYTimes Article.]


[For details on the 1MDb Scandal, click on:  BusinessInsider Article.]