Tim Leissner was never accurately the shy, retiring form. As the Southeast Asia chairman at Goldman Sachs, he reportedly was creating extra than $10 million a yr by 2012, expending lavishly, and regarded as a tough-partier
But hooking up with Kimora Lee Simmons — the glamorous model, Baby Phat designer and ex-spouse of Def Jam Data co-founder Russell Simmons — that exact calendar year pushed him to live a much more luxe lifetime.
“He married Kimora and desired to current a richer identity. He could not be a banker. He had to be a rich person with his possess yacht,” Bradley Hope, co-author of “Billion Greenback Whale: The Gentleman Who Fooled Walled Avenue, Hollywood and the Earth,” told The Write-up.
“He required to be a participant in its place of the guy who just offers with players.”
Very last week, Leissner, 51, was roasted at federal court in Brooklyn — in the warm seat as government’s witness in the demo of his former underling. Roger Ng is billed with conspiring to launder dollars and violate the federal Overseas Corrupt Procedures Act as portion of a purported $4.5 billion heist versus the sovereign fund of Malaysia, allegedly spearheaded by infamous bash boy — and close friend of Leonardo DiCaprio — Jho Minimal (now on the lam in China).
Goldman Sachs bankers are alleged to have served on their own to tens of hundreds of thousands of pounds from Malaysia’s sovereign growth fund 1MDB, which experienced elevated $8 billion to be invested on behalf of Malaysia’s citizenry.
The German-born Leissner has by now labored out a plea deal — pleading guilty to charges of income laundering and forfeiting $43.7 million. (In accordance to court docket documents, among 2012 and October 2014, far more than $200 million is alleged to have been transferred from 1MDB to accounts owned and managed by Leissner and a co-conspirator.) But Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo is nevertheless dragging him by means of the mud.
“Tim Leissner utilizes men and women,” Agnifilo reported in courtroom on Feb. 14. He was “married to two unique girls at the exact time – twice.” The lawyer also accused Leissner of forging files which include divorce papers and of getting sexual relations with Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, previously the standard counsel for 1MDB who acquired a $5 million transfer from the fund.
“Those matters ought to have been purple flags,” the protection lawyer mentioned.
Calling Leissner a “mini variation of Reduced,” Agnifilo claimed the previous banker sought out money to to invest in personal planes, yachts and homes in Beverly Hills.
Leissner’s attorney experienced no comment for this tale.
Hope also pointed out some of Leissner’s previous shady behavior.
In 1993, “He purchased a Ph.D. on the web and started off contacting himself Dr. Leissner,” the writer stated. In “Billion Greenback Whale,” Hope writes, “Leissner commenced using the title ‘Dr.’ at speaking engagements and shortly right after he secured a promotion to vice president at J.P. Morgan.”
Leissner has normally lived a lifestyle of privilege.
The son of an affluent Volkswagen executive, as a boy or girl he was obsessed with tennis and attended camps in which he obtained classes from the likes of Steffi Graf. Following receiving an MBA from the College of Hartford in Connecticut, he moved to London for an entry-degree position at J.P. Morgan and his initially marriage.
Close to the mid-1990s, his relationship strike the skids, company boomed and Hong Kong beckoned.
He subsequent wed married Judy Chan, the daughter of a Chinese coal magnate. The couple’s lavish marriage, held on the grounds of a clever Hong Kong hotel, was notorious for its array of suckling pigs with flashing lights stuffed into the animals’ eye sockets.
(Even though Ng’s legal professional Anigfilo claimed in courtroom past 7 days that Leissner was a “double bigamist” who was “married to two distinct females at the very same time, 2 times,” it is not acknowledged which gals he is referring to.)
For American investment bankers in that period, the Significantly East was far more like the Wild West. Leissner and his colleagues swaggered all-around the continent, their pockets bulging with dollars, taking the notion of get the job done-hard/participate in-tough to an extreme.
In accordance to the Economic Instances, “His partying ability was legendary, and even rivals confess he would nonetheless clearly show up on time for conferences, even so late the night right before had ended.”
Meanwhile, small business dealings that would be frowned on in the West ended up blithely missed in Southeast Asia.
“Tim felt relaxed in the edgy ecosystem,” reported Hope. “It was edgy for the reason that it combined federal government with business enterprise. We never have that in The usa — and if we did it would be comprehensive of corruption. It is a unsafe factor having pools of revenue [accessible to top government officials]. Malaysia is well known for corruption. You have a state exactly where bribes are section of the society. Skimming funds from offers is component of the detail.”
Even now, in accordance to Hope, Leissner was adequate of a money equipment, eventually earning $10 million per 12 months for his do the job at the financial investment bank’s Hong Kong headquarters, that his allegedly shady eccentricities had been overlooked.
By the time Leissner fulfilled Jho Lower, all-around 2008, launched by Ng, Leissner was regarded as, according to Hope, “the bees’ knees” at Goldman.
Lifted in Malaysia, of Chinese descent and educated at Wharton, Lower experienced presently created a name as an affluent gentleman with family members cash and entry to sovereign prosperity cash. He was acknowledged to be a deal maker for the rich and now he was seeking to corral billions for 1MDB, which was the sovereign prosperity fund for the state of Malaysia. Through Ng and Leissner, Goldman Sachs lifted the dollars by means of bond gross sales.
In accordance to prosecutors, Ng and Leissner allegedly assisted Lower embezzle cash from 1MDB in trade for thousands and thousands in kickbacks (Ng has pleaded not guilty to all expenses). The payoffs promptly acquired out of hand, and so did the lifestyle.
Leissner was a guest at Low’s 2012 birthday bash in a converted Vegas airplane hangar that housed diversions such as a Ferris wheel and cigar lounge. Attendees integrated Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton together with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis, taking a night off from filming “The Hangover” at Caesars Palace. Britney Spears jumped out of a cake that night and serenaded Reduced. Robin Leach gushed about it being “the most expensive get together that Las Vegas has at any time viewed.”
Very low paid out famous people this kind of as Megan Fox and Leonardo DiCaprio to go to his functions, flying them in on a personal jet.
In 2012, Leissner was en route to a Formula 1 race when he met Kimora Lee Simmons in enterprise class on a Cathay Pacific flight involving Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Nearly instantly, according to “Billion Dollar Whale,” they started arguing about who ought to be equipped to use the vacant center seat for extra carry-ons. By the time they landed, Leissner had proposed relationship.
Though that took two several years, they rapidly became an merchandise. Leissner all of a sudden discovered himself residing an elevated daily life at her $25 million mansion in the elite Beverly Park community of Los Angeles. The two had a son, Wolfe, in 2015. (Kimora also has two daughters, Ming, 22, and Aoki, 19, with Russell Simmons son Kenzo, 12, with actor Djimon Hounsou and adopted son Gary, 12.)
“The impact [colleagues] experienced was that he preferred to make a lot of dollars,” Hope explained of Leissner when Kimora arrived into his life. “He was not material to make what he produced.”
Leissner generally seemed to have ways of justifying his good results without the need of seeming unsavory.
“Nobody realized he was undertaking the items he was doing or the full extent of it,” Hope stated, referring especially to the Jho Minimal caper but explaining that it could have gone further than that one. Looking at how much business enterprise Leissner brought in from Southeast Asia, a aspect of the planet that can be difficult for American bankers to penetrate, Goldman colleagues “wondered how he did what he did and how he pulled it off. He claimed he was charismatic and recognized the culture.”
Hope is not shocked that Leissner pulled it off: “People like Tim know how to command on their own. They are superior chameleons.”
But rubber hit the road in 2015 when it turned very clear that the 1MDB Fund experienced amassed overpowering credit card debt. Goldman Sachs launched an in-residence investigation. Leissner, suspended from the company, repaired to the luxe life in Los Angeles. The moment arrested, in June 2018, he speedily entered a responsible plea and commenced negotiating the most essential deal of his lifetime.
“Basically, Leissner agreed to testify from all people,” Hope informed The Publish. “Ng got arrested and allowed himself to be extradited. He did not want to do a plea deal. He … is preventing for the reason that he thinks he is a modest fish and why need to he take the brunt of culpability?”
In the meantime, Leissner experienced also courted the wrath of his wife’s ex. Russell and Kimora just about every individual half of an expenditure company that held 4 million shares of the Celsius Vitality Drink business Russell promises that 50 percent of the shares had been fraudulently transferred to enable cover Leissner’s bail and lawful service fees Kimora maintains that she and Leissner bought the shares independently. Russell has filed a lawsuit from the couple.
Kimora and Leissner are now separated.
Hope, for just one, believes that if the perpetrators had not been very so greedy, points may possibly have finished differently.
“If just a billion bucks experienced been stolen, they might have gotten away with it,” the writer mentioned. “But the fund turned into a pyramid plan. They wanted new income to service the credit card debt.”