A contribution of US$300,000 (RM1.2 million) was eventually made.
Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, compelled corrupt banker Tim Leissner to make a “donation” to Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-Isteri (Bakti).
According to Leissner’s testimony at a New York court on Feb 22, he had stated in an email to former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng that Low was “chasing” him to make the donation.
“I’m talking about here that Low texted me about this contribution as well and that him chasing me would drive me crazy,” he told the court.
Prosecutor Drew Rolle: And what did the defendant (Ng) say in response to you?
Leissner: I know. Got to get a life. Did you get the text on fuming for R is serious? He said let her cool down next week, but by the end of next, if no cheque, we got to be ready for personal.
Rolle: When the defendant wrote, quote, fuming for R is serious, what did you understand him to be talking about?
Leissner: My understanding was that Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Najib (Abdul Razak), the prime minister (at the time), was very upset that the contribution was taking so long.
Bakti is a group for the wives of MPs and cabinet ministers. It mainly performs charity work. The wife of the prime minister chairs Bakti by default. It was formed in 1977.
‘Rosmah’s influence on Najib was great’
Leissner explained in his attempts to secure a deal with the Malaysian government, he had dealt with Low.
Low then made two requests to Leissner sometime in 2009: One, that he secures employment in Goldman Sachs for Najib’s three children. Two, he “supports” Rosmah’s charity.
Leissner told the court that making the donation to Bakti would allow Goldman Sachs to “continue their work” and “improve (their) relationship with the first family”.
“Rosmah, I knew from working in Malaysia, was very powerful with her husband, that her influence on him was great, and therefore, when the request first came in, it was really trying to extend our relationship with her by giving her something of value which is this contribution to her charity which would make her look good,” he said.
When asked if it was common for Goldman Sachs to receive requests for donations, Leissner said he had never received such a request from a government or government-linked person before.
He said Goldman Sachs has a scheme called Goldman Sachs Gives (GSG) which is an allocation to charitable contributions to be made by Goldman Sachs partners.
Donated ‘substantial amount’
At the time, Leissner was the head of Goldman Sachs’ Southeast Asia outfit.
“I couldn’t touch that money for my own personal use, but I could dedicate it to charitable contributions.
“If I used pooled money or funds from that pool, it was a requirement to go through the Goldman Sachs process of getting vetted.
“That vetting included our internal legal compliance team. NGS Gives was an actual team, and an external lawyer, as well, that would do that vetting,” he said.
In the end, Leissner said he made a contribution of US$300,000 (RM1.2 million) which he described as a “substantial amount”.
Leissner is the star witness in the criminal trial against Ng, who is accused of violating US anti-bribery laws and money laundering in relation to 1MDB.
Ng used to be Leissner’s subordinate in Goldman Sachs. Leissner pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2020 and was fined US$44 million.
Goldman Sachs has been sanctioned in the US as well. The firm was also pursued by the Malaysian authorities which ended up in a substantial settlement agreement.
Goldman Sachs had helped to raise US$6.5 billion for 1MDB, set up in 2009 soon after Najib became prime minister and finance minister. US and Malaysian authorities believe most of the money raised was squandered. – Malaysiakini