83 It now takes about days for the typical Chinese firm to collect cash for completed sales, almost as long as in similar emerging-market economies. Over two years, accounts receivable at Chinese public companies rose 23%, to about $590b, more than the
fees and commissions reflected the risks it assumed.
Leissner at one point recommended that the firm hire the daughter of a close aide to Prime Minister Najib, according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, at an event in San Francisco, Leissner posed for a photo with the leader and Kimora Lee Simmons, who is now Leissner’s wife. Simmons, a model and fashion designer who was previously married to music mogul Russell Simmons, posted the picture to her Twitter feed, which has 1.6 million followers.
“There’s no law against bankers meeting with heads of state,” says Wong Chen, an opposition member of Malaysia’s parliament. But of Goldman’s relationship with 1MDB, he says, “That’s a bit too cozy, a bit too generous.”
Last year, investigators probed hundreds of millions of dollars that showed up in the prime minister’s bank accounts. “I am not a thief,” Najib said in July. The attorney general Najib appointed last year cleared him of wrongdoing, and said in January that the prime minister got $681 million as a gift from Saudi Arabia’s royal family. He said $620 million was returned. That same month, Swiss prosecutors asked Malaysia for help investigating 1MDB over the billions of dollars they suspected had been misappropriated. The Swiss said the inquiry wasn’t focused on Najib. A spokesman for Najib declined to comment for this story.
U.S. authorities are exploring whether Goldman Sachs misled 1MDB bondholders or broke anticorruption laws, the Journal has reported. The U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed Leissner in February, but told him he’s not a target, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Goldman Sachs reviewed the bond sales and found no indication the firm or Leissner engaged in wrongdoing, two people familiar with the process say. Even so, the bank stepped up scrutiny of him after he advised a group last year trying to buy Newmont Mining’s Indonesian copper operations.
One investor in the project was Sudjiono Timan, former head of a government-owned Indonesian brokerage who was convicted of corruption in 2004. The conviction was overturned in 2013. Goldman Sachs told Leissner it wouldn’t move ahead if Timan was a sponsor, two people familiar with the matter say. Timan withdrew, but Goldman Sachs pulled out when it learned he was still an adviser, the people say. The bank then examined Leissner’s messages and found a reference letter he wrote that it said in a regulatory filing was “inaccurate and unauthorized.” The filing didn’t say who the letter was written to or about.
Leissner, whose father was a Volkswagen executive in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War, graduated from Germany’s University of Siegen and got an MBA from the University of Hartford in Connecticut in 1992. He was listed as “Dr. Leissner” on a program for a 2001 gathering of young Asian leaders. In a biography he provided for another forum in 2007, he said he had a doctorate in business administration from Somerset University. A school with that name offered degrees for $995, a retired federal investigator told a U.S. congressional committee on education in 2004.
Goldman’s business in Malaysia, where it was one of the top banks four years ago, has fallen far. It ranked 17th for local mergers-and-acquisitions work last year, and wasn’t involved in any equity or debt deals, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The firm put Leissner on leave in January, and he resigned soon after. He
moved to California, where
At 131 days, industrial
firms in China take the longest to convert
sales into cash “It’s a big problem
when you have rising insolvencies, a bad economic environment, and less liquidity for small
companies.” ——Mahamoud Islam,
economist at Euler Hermes in Hong Kong
——By Ye Xie and Fox Hu The time it takes for companies to be paid rises as China’s GDP
Corporate bankruptcies in China are projected by Euler
Hermes to climb 20 percent this year