Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Tim Leissner can be questioned about certain emails he sent his estranged wife Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner to determine whether he is a “cunning liar,” a judge ruled.
The order on Monday (March 7) in the Brooklyn federal court trial of Leissner’s alleged 1MDB co-conspirator Roger Ng is a compromise – the defense originally wanted to show the emails to the jury. US District Judge Margo Brodie ruled that the jury could not see them.
Ng’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, has been using his cross-examination of Leissner to attack the credibility of the government’s star witness against his client. Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018 to helping Malaysian financier Jho Low loot billions of dollars from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, leaving Ng the only Goldman banker to go on trial over the scandal.
Prosecutors had argued that the emails were not relevant because many were sent after the alleged 1MDB conspiracy ended in 2014 and said they might confuse the jury.
Agnifilo said Monday the emails back up the picture he is trying to create of Leissner.
“Our theory is that this is a cunning liar, a rare cunning liar” the defence lawyer told the court after jurors were dismissed. “I’m seeking to show this jury he’s just a liar and the only way that the jury understands what he’s done with our client and the lengths he’s gone to do other things of an unusual and cunning nature.”
Agnifilo said Leissner created a fake email address purporting to be from his second wife Judy Chan, which he used to communicate with Simmons Leissner – who he was dating – and even posed as Judy Chan when he sent the messages. Leissner also used Judy Chan’s name in 2016 to buy art Low obtained from looting 1MDB, though the United States had launched an investigation by then, the lawyer said.
Brodie said Agnifilo could ask Leissner about the lies to show he’s an unreliable witness. She said she would also review some other emails which Leissner send Simmons Leissner to determine if they could be used at trial.
Earlier on Monday, Agnifilo tried to depict Ng as being excluded from several meetings and deal discussions between Low and Leissner, including a proposed acquisition of Brazilian mining giant Vale SA. Some of the discussions occurred around the first and second bond transactions Goldman handled for 1MDB in 2012.
Leissner acknowledged Ng did not attend most of the meetings with Low and said he did not recall in other instances. Many of the proposed deals never came to fruition, Leissner said.