KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Tim Leissner was ordered to forfeit US$43.7 million in cash and the US$3.3 million shares in fitness drink company Celsius Holdings Inc.
Yesterday, US District Judge Margo Brodie had instructed Leissner to surrender the assets as part of his earlier guilty plea to foreign bribery and money-laundering charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, Bloomberg reported.
Leissner has been free on US$20 million bail since his arrest in June 2018. He pleaded guilty in August 2018 and was the government’s star witness against his former Goldman colleague Roger Ng.
The forfeiture order comes the same day the government issued a recommendation for Ng, where he was ordered by Brodie to forfeit US$35.1 million.
The report said that Leissner’s lawyer Henry Mazurek declined to comment on the judge decision while Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo did not return a call for comments.
The US said that both Goldman’s former Southeast Asia head Leissner and Ng conspired with financier Low Taek Jho to bribe officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to facilitate bond deals.
Low, better know as Jho Low, is the alleged mastermind of the sprawling fraud scheme.
Ng, 51, the only Goldman employee to go to trial over the multibillion-dollar looting, was convicted by a federal jury in April of three felony counts, including conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws and conspiring to launder money.
Ng is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9.
Ownership of the Celsius shares remains in dispute as Ng sued Leissner in New York state court in November, alleging his ex-boss cheated him out of an investment worth at least US$130 million.
Ng alleged that Leissner took his original US$1.25 million investment in Celsius, has since grown in value enormously. That case is still pending
Brodie said Celsius shares were being held at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. account in the name of Leissner’s former wife, Kimora Lee Simmons.
The judge said anyone who asserts a legal interest in the Celsius shares may file a petition with the court. Low stole US$1.42 billion from three bond transactions that Goldman arranged for 1MDB, according to a forensic accountant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who testified at Ng’s trial.
The US said evidence showed Ng collected US$35.1 million in the fraud while Leissner received US$73.4 million. Low remains a fugitive.
US said that the former Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reaped US$756 million of the US$6.5 billion raised in the bond offerings, while his stepson, Riza Aziz, pocketed US$238 million.
Quoting the prosecutor, the report said that Aziz used at least US$60 million of his 1MDB money to produce The Wolf of Wall Street.
Leissner testified at the trial that, as part of his guilty plea, he had agreed to surrender a stake in Celsius he estimated was now worth about US$200 million and had previously posted US$3.25 million shares in Celsius as collateral to secure his bond.
During his time on the witness stand he admitted to faking divorce documents, creating phony email accounts, marrying multiple women at the same time and keeping money that wasn’t his.
The case is US v Leissner, 18-cr-439, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).