Ex-Goldman banker subpoenaed over Malaysia scandal


New York (AFP)

Goldman Sachs's former top banker for Southeast Asia has been subpoenaed by the US Justice Department in a probe into Malaysia's snowballing corruption scandal, AFP learned Tuesday.

People close to the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Tim Leissner, who quit the powerful US investment bank last month, was called to testify relating to the payments scandal that surrounds Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Based in Singapore as Goldman's Southeast Asia chairman, Leissner advised the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, which is at the center of allegations of secret transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars to Najib's private accounts.

Najib has denied accusations of corruption, which have embroiled the government for months.

According to one AFP source, Leissner, a German national, was suspended by Goldman in January for violating company policies on a matter separate from the 1MDB case. Leissner then left Goldman in February.

Late last year the US Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating the accusations of corruption and money laundering.

Authorities in several other countries are also investigating the money flows.

Swiss authorities have said they believe $4 billion may have been stolen from Malaysian state firms and have frozen millions of dollars in accounts linked to 1MDB.

At the beginning of February Singapore seized "a large number of bank accounts" in its 1MDB investigations, vowing not to let the global banking hub become a refuge for illicit funds.

"Singapore is also cooperating closely with relevant authorities, including those in Malaysia, Switzerland and the United States," said a joint statement from the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the police Commercial Affairs Department.