Politics

Kimora Lee Simmons’ Banker Husband Becomes U.S. Government Witness And Is Telling On Everyone In Theft Of $Billions From Malaysia


Celebrity personality and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons’ estranged husband, Tim Leissner, is now a government witness. The former partner for investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in Asia, Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges related to money laundering and corruption in a multibillion-dollar Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund scandal.

Leissner, 51, testified recently in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, as the government’s witness in the trial of his former underling, Roger Ng. Ng is charged with conspiring to launder money and violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as part of a purported $4.5 billion heist against the sovereign fund of Malaysia, allegedly spearheaded by Jho Low, who is on the lam in China.

“Basically, Leissner agreed to testify against everybody,” said Bradley Hope, co-author of “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Walled Street, Hollywood, and the World,” in a The New York Post interview. “Ng got arrested and allowed himself to be extradited. He did not want to do a plea deal. He … is fighting because he thinks he is a small fish and why should he take the brunt of culpability?”

Both Leissner and Ng face the possibility of decades in prison. The Goldman Sachs bankers are alleged to have taken tens of millions of dollars from Malaysia’s sovereign development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (or 1MDB), which raised $8 billion to be invested on behalf of the people of Malaysia.

Everything came to a head in 2015 when it became apparent that the 1MDB Fund had accumulated enormous debt. Goldman Sachs launched an in-house investigation and suspended Leissner, Vanity Fair reported. In June 2018 he was arrested and almost immediately entered a guilty plea.

The German-born Leissner went on to negotiate a plea deal, pleading guilty to charges of money laundering and forfeiting $43.7 million. Leissner was also recently accused of forging divorce papers from his previous marriage in order to marry Kimora.

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Many say Leissner’s desire to have a “rich guy” image to be with Kimora was a part of his downfall. Kimora, who was previously married to hip-hop music mogul Russell Simmons and actor Djimon Hounsou, met Leissner on a flight. Leissner reportedly proposed to her once they landed.

It’s not that Leissner was poor. As the Southeast Asia chairman at Goldman Sachs, he reportedly was making more than $10 million a year by 2012. He still found it hard to keep up with Kimora’s lavish lifestyle, insiders said. Kimora often flaunted her glamorous life on “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane,” a reality TV series that ran from 2007 to 2011 and followed her in daily life.

“He married Kimora and needed to present a richer personality. He couldn’t be a banker. He had to be a rich guy with his own yacht,” author Hope told The New York Post. “He wanted to be a player instead of the guy who just deals with players.”

Leissner was also sued by Russell Simmons, Kimora’s ex. Russell and Kimora each own half of an investment firm that held 4 million shares of the Celsius Energy Drink company. In the lawsuit suit, which names Kimora as a defendant, Russell claims that half of the shares were fraudulently transferred to help cover Leissner’s bail and legal fees.

Kimora and Simmons are reportedly separated. Kimora started the Baby Phat clothing brand in 1999 as an offshoot of her Russell’s Phat Farm clothing brand. Baby Phat was relaunched in December 2019.

Photo: Kimora Lee Simmons arrives at the taping of “TV Land Presents: AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Morgan Freeman” in Culver City, Calif., June , 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)



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