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MACC freezes assets, bank account linked to Astro ex-boss after Leissner’s ‘blackmail’ revelation

Rohana Rozhan is being investigated under the country's anti-money laundering laws.

2 minute read
Former Astro CEO Rohana Rozhan.
Former Astro CEO Rohana Rozhan.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued a freeze order on assets and a bank account belonging to former Astro CEO Rohana Rozhan, as it launches an investigation into the claim by former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner that he had been blackmailed into buying her a US$10 million home in London, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

The order was made under Section 44 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act, which prohibits Rohana from making any transactions linked to her bank account in the UK or the said home.

It is understood that Rohana may have paid for the London house using half of the amount allegedly given by Leissner, while the remainder was kept in an account in the UK.

Rohana was called to the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya for questioning yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malay daily Harian Metro quoted a source as saying that the probe was related to the house allegedly bought for her by Leissner.

“The investigation will be conducted by the MACC according to Section 4(2) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” the source said.

Testifying in New York court this week in the 1MDB-linked corruption trial of his former colleague Roger Ng, Leissner claimed that Rohana, with whom he had been having an affair, had threatened to expose his involvement in the multi-billion dollar scandal after she learnt that he was about to end their 10-year relationship.

“If I didn’t buy her a house, she would tell the authorities about my involvement in the 1MDB scandal. She was threatening to expose me. At the time, 2013, I was very fearful of that,” he was quoted as saying in a report by Bloomberg.

Leissner was chief of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operation and is testifying in the criminal trial of Ng, the bank’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia.

He pleaded guilty to money laundering and corruption charges, while Ng has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering and violating an anti-corruption law.

The charges stem from one of the biggest financial scandals in history, in which US prosecutors say US$4.5 billion of the US$6.5 billion Goldman raised for 1MDB was diverted to government officials bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks.

Leissner told the court earlier this week his relationship with Rohana was a “sensitive issue” as the bank did business with Astro.

He also said that his boss at the time, former Asia head Richard Gnodde, had urged him to “be careful about relationships with clients”.

Nonetheless, he said the affair had lasted from 2003 to 2013.