(Bloomberg) -- Tim Leissner, a former top Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive in Asia, told a judge at his guilty plea that he plotted with others at the firm to pay bribes and concealed the scheme in line with the “culture of Goldman Sachs to conceal facts from certain compliance and legal employees.”
Leissner, Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, and Goldman banker Roger Ng were charged by the U.S. in a case unsealed this month over the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, known formally as 1Malaysia Development Bhd. In his Aug. 28 guilty plea in Brooklyn, New York, which was made public Friday, he told a judge that he conspired with “several other employees of Goldman Sachs” and then worked to hide the theft, bribe payments and money-laundering from others at the bank.
“I and several other employees of Goldman Sachs at the time also concealed that we knew that Jho Low was promising and paying bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials to obtain and retain 1MDB business for Goldman Sachs, for the benefit of Goldman Sachs and myself, and using some of the proceeds of the 1MDB bonds to do so,” he said.
Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes.
The transcript, which is heavily redacted, doesn’t indicate whether Leissner is cooperating with authorities. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces life in prison and has agreed not to appeal a sentence of less than 25 years. He’s free on bail.
Goldman has said it believed proceeds of debt sales it underwrote were for development projects and that Leissner withheld information from the firm.
Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, didn’t have an immediate comment.
According to federal filings, Low was closely involved in helping Goldman Sachs win the Malaysian business even as Leissner and at least one other lower-ranking banker were already working to shield his role from its compliance group, which had consistently said the bank shouldn’t take him on as a client. Goldman Sachs went on to raise as much as $6.5 billion for 1MDB in subsequent years, receiving about $600 million in fees.
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(Updates with details of case; an earlier version of this story corrected the timing of the charges.)
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