Blackmailed Him Into Buying $10 Million Home
Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner’s testimony in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial in the United States turned salacious after he revealed having an affair with Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd former CEO Rohana Rozhan and the S$10 million (RM31.1 million) home he gifted her.
Asked by prosecutor Drew Rolle about his extramarital affairs, Leissner cited several, including one with Rohana Rozhan, former chief executive officer of media company Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd. The relationship lasted from 2003 to 2013, he told the jury.
He alleged that he bought her a US$10 million (RM41.85 million) home in London in 2013 after she had threatened to expose his involvement with 1MDB and that the relationship was from 2003 to 2013, reported Bloomberg.
“Ms Rozhan was very upset that I was ending our relationship to be with my future wife, with Kimora,” Leissner was quoted as telling the jury, referring to his wife Kimora Lee Simmons.
“If I didn’t buy her a house, she would tell the authorities about my involvement in the 1MDB scandal. She was threatening to expose me. At the time, 2013, I was very fearful of that.”
He added that he disclosed his affair with Rohana to his then boss, former Goldman Asia head Richard Gnodde.
Leissner claimed that it was a sensitive issue because the investment bank had businesses with Astro and Gnodde told him “be careful about relationships with clients”.
“Pretty much everybody in our Southeast Asia territory knew it.”
Rohana left Astro in 2019.
Leissner is the prosecution’s star witness in the criminal trial involving former Goldman Sachs colleague Roger Ng. Leissner also pleaded guilty in 2018 to a count of conspiracy to violate US anti-bribery laws and to conspiring to launder money.
Ng is the only former Goldman banker to go on trial for his involvement in the 1MDB scandal.
In his testimony today, Leissner also dropped a bombshell revelation on former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who allegedly wanted to secure jobs for his three children with Goldman.
Leissner, 52, testified that his ex-boss Lloyd Blankfein’s meeting with Najib in 2009 came with an agenda and it took place before the bank’s mega bond deals for 1MDB.
He added that he was told by Ng that Najib would be in New York to visit his children for the Thanksgiving holiday.
He alleged that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, said it would be good for Blankfein and Najib to meet.
Leissner said after a meeting with Najib, Ng said the Malaysian prime minister wanted jobs for his children at Goldman.
“Just met PM’s three children at his apartment, am with Jho at his apartment,” Leissner read to the jury from an email.
He said Ng added: “Meeting him again tomorrow and will work at getting his three children to join Goldman Sachs.”
Leissner then said he did not express any qualms as “the prime minister of Malaysia was potentially great business for us, so I felt having the children of the prime minister work for us would potentially be seen, not just for the prime minister”, but “all others in Asia would take notice”.
He added that he later helped get Najib’s daughter a job at TPG, which is an American investment company.
Leissner last week told the court that it was “greed and ambition” that motivated his involvement in the 1MDB deal.
He said bringing 1MDB’s multi-million-dollar deal with the United States investment bank “instantaneously made us heroes”.
He alleged that Ng had in 2008 fostered a relationship with fugitive Low, who was then the intermediary between Goldman and 1MDB, Reuters reported.
It later led to Goldman selling US$6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB and making US$600 million in fees.
“My greed and ambition took over,” Leissner was quoted as saying, and that the repercussions had destroyed his life.
“The main focus for me was whatever it takes to get these transactions done for Goldman Sachs.”
Leissner also testified that Low made a list of people in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi who needed to be bribed to ensure that the 1MDB plan was approved. Among the names in his testimony were Najib and United Arab Emirates Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour.
A day before, Alex Cohen testified in Ng’s trial. Cohen is the chief financial officer of Strategic Group, an entertainment and marketing company that organised parties for Low.
He told the court that millions of dollars drained in the 1MDB scandal were spent by Low on luxurious parties and celebrity guests.
According to Bloomberg, Cohen testified that Low had provided Strategic Group with at least 25% of its profits in 2012, paying US$5,000 just for the talent scouting for one particular event – all with the roughly US$700 million allegedly sourced by Low from 1MDB.
The jury in Brooklyn, New York, also heard about invoices from a Las Vegas party for Low, where expenses such as food, beverages, “talent” and “top quality models” added up to more than US$3.6 million.
Ng, 49, is facing accusations of pocketing millions of dollars in kickbacks in the 1MDB deal, with allegations of money laundering and violating anti-bribery laws.
Low was charged in the US in 2018, however, he remains a fugitive.