Tim Leissner became Goldman Sachs’s Southeast Asia chairman in 2014. Proximity to power is so prized at Goldman Sachs that a former co-head wrote it into his commandments for the firm: “Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?”. Was that motto floating around Tim Leissner’s head when he encountered his future wife for the first time on a flight?
Leissner met Kimora Lee Simmons, former wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and believed to be friends with the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in business class on a flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. What began as an argument aboard the flight ended with a marriage proposal, and Leissner parlayed the conversation into a secret early 2014 wedding and last year’s birth of their son Wolfe.
Kimora’s social-media accounts chronicled her jet-set life, from yachts in the Caribbean to Indonesia, where she thanked god for her police escort. That lifestyle is currently on hold as the family is staying put in the US while Leissner is tied up in a massive scandal.
Based in Singapore, Leissner advised the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, for which Goldman Sachs received unusually high commissions for bond sales. Goldman has severed ties with the controversial fund that is now the subject of a $6 billion international embezzlement investigation, and allegations that $681 million was routed to Razak’s private accounts. Razak has denied accusations of corruption, which have embroiled the government for months.
People are wondering what Kimora has to do with it, and whether her husband has been using her for unethical means. Leissner has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing, but one might reasonably detect an air of fishiness about him from current and past reports.
At a 2001 gathering of young Asian leaders, the program listed Tim as Dr. Leissner for his workshop “What would happen had Einstein joined Wall Street?” A bio he provided at another forum said he got 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.
Leissner, 45, was placed on leave after Goldman discovered he had written an unauthorized letter vouching for friend Jho Low’s finances to help him buy real estate in Ireland.
Lee and Simmons split in 2006 after eight years of marriage and having two daughters together, Ming, 16, and Aoki, 13. She married actor Djimon Hounsou in the summer of 2008 and the two had a son together, Kenzo. The couple separated four years later in 2012.