Hong Kong regulator bans former Goldman banker Tim Leissner for life over 1MDB scandal

An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2014. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019
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Hong Kong regulator bans former Goldman banker Tim Leissner for life over 1MDB scandal

  • Tim Leissner has already been barred from the banking sector in the United States and Singapore
  • An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2014

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s financial regulator has banned former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner from re-entering the industry for life for his crimes linked to the multi-billion-dollar scandal at the Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB.
The sanction is latest for Leissner who has already been barred from the banking sector in the United States and Singapore for his links to the scandal. Goldman itself is being probed by the US Justice Department for its role as underwriter and arranger for $6.5 billion worth of 1MDB bonds.
Apart from Leissner, another former Goldman banker Roger Ng and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho have been charged in the United States for links to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2014, the US Justice Department has alleged.
Leissner, a former partner at Goldman Sachs in Asia, pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to forfeit $43.7 million.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it considered Leissner’s conduct demonstrated “a serious lack of honesty and integrity” and called into question his fitness and properness to be a licensed person.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman said Leissner deliberately hid certain activities from the bank and repeatedly violated its policies and procedures.
“We continue to cooperate with all authorities looking into these matters,” he said.
A lawyer for Leissner could not be immediately reached in the United States outside of usual business hours.
Leissner was licensed under Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Ordinance for activities including advising on securities and corporate finance for Goldman Sachs between April 1, 1998 and Feb. 24, 2016, the SFC statement said.
He is currently not licensed by the SFC, it added.
In March, the US Federal Reserve barred Leissner and Ng from the banking industry for their involvement in “a scheme that illegally diverts billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.”
Singapore’s central bank had also issued a lifetime prohibition order against Leissner in December last year, upgrading a 2017 10-year prohibition order against him.
At least six countries, including Malaysia, which has also filed charges against Goldman and its two former bankers, the United States and Switzerland, have been investigating the alleged thefts from 1MDB.


Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

A general view of Gulf Cement Company in Ghalilah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates July 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 57 min 11 sec ago
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Funds managing $2 trillion urge cement makers to act on climate impact

  • The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China

LONDON: European funds managing $2 trillion in assets called on cement companies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions on Monday, warning that a failure to do so could put their business models at risk.
Some asset managers are ramping up engagement with heavy polluters to demand a faster transition to a cleaner economy.
“The cement sector needs to dramatically reduce the contribution it makes to climate change,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which has more than 170 members, mainly European pension funds and asset managers. “This is ultimately a business-critical issue for the sector,” Pfeifer said in a statement.
The group said investors had written to cement or construction materials companies including Ireland’s CRH, Franco-Swiss group LafargeHolcim and France’s St. Gobain to demand they achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
They also noted that Germany’s HeidelbergCement had already adopted the target. The funds urged all cement companies to align themselves with the 2015 Paris agreement to combat global warming, engage with policymakers to ensure an orderly transition to a low carbon economy, and increase their reporting of climate risk.
“Construction materials companies may ultimately risk divestment and lack of access to capital as an increasing number of investors seek to exclude highly carbon-intensive sectors from their portfolios,” said Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of the Ethos Foundation.

FASTFACT

The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Signatories collectively manage assets worth $2 trillion and include Aberdeen Standard Investments, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Sarasin & Partners and Hermes EOS.
Although funds are increasingly engaging with companies from airlines to carmakers on emissions, few are calling for the systemic transformation of the global economic system that scientists increasingly argue is needed to prevent runaway climate breakdown.
The cement industry produces 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the third largest emitter, behind the US and China.
With climate campaigners traditionally focused on fossil fuel companies, the European cement sector has received comparatively little scrutiny until recently.
On Tuesday, police arrested six climate activists from civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion at a protest aimed at disrupting a site in east London belonging to London Concrete, a unit of LafargeHolcim.
In June last year, a report from think-tank Chatham House concluded that although there was no “silver bullet” to reduce emissions from cement, it should be possible to deploy a range of policies and technologies to achieve deep decarbonization.