U.S. investigators probing a troubled Malaysian state investment fund have subpoenaed Goldman Sachs' former chairman for Southeast Asia, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The banker, Tim Leissner, who resigned from Goldman last month after the bank placed him on leave, worked on several large bond deals for deeply indebted 1MDB, or 1Malaysia Development Berhad, netting hundreds of millions in fees for the bank, the WSJ said.
Goldman placed Leissner on leave after reviewing his emails and finding that he allegedly sent an unauthorized and potentially inaccurate reference letter for an individual at another financial firm, the WSJ reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The person told the WSJ that the letter wasn't related to Leissner's work with 1MDB and Goldman found nothing wrong with his dealings with the fund.
Both the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating allegations of money laundering and corruption at 1MDB, including examining Goldman's role, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Those people said the probe is gathering information and there isn't a suggestion of wrong-doing by Leissner or the bank, the WSJ said.
According to the report, Goldman declined to comment. 1MDB has repeatedly denied wrong-doing, often saying that the WSJ is repeating "disproven allegations."
In July of last year, the WSJ reported allegations that nearly $700 million had flowed from 1MDB to the personal bank account of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak. Najib has repeatedly denied wrong-doing and, under pressure from the WSJ report, said at the time the funds were a private donation from a Middle Eastern country he declined to name. In January, Malaysia's Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali told an unscheduled press conference that Saudi Arabia's royal family gave Najib a $681 million gift that was subsequently partially returned.
Apandi said at the same press conference that no criminal offense had been committed, but investigators are continuing to probe the allegations in other countries, including Switzerland, which said it had found misappropriation of around $4 billion from Malaysian state companies. Singapore has also said it has seized several bank accounts in recent months as part of its investigation into possible money-laundering related to 1MDB.