Tim Leissner, testifying in the trial of a former colleague accused of helping loot billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, said he misled his wives, including Kimora Lee Simmons.
The star witness in the criminal bribery and money-laundering case of a former Goldman Sachs banker said he had “lied a lot” — including by presenting a fake divorce decree, proving his divorce to a previous wife was final, to his fiancée, the fashion designer and model Kimora Lee Simmons.
The witness, Tim Leissner, is expected to be cross-examined for several days during the federal court trial of a fellow banker charged in connection with the looting of billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Mr. Leissner, a former Goldman partner, has already pleaded guilty to charges related to the fund, known as 1MDB. Under questioning from lawyers for a former colleague who is facing similar charges, Roger Ng, Mr. Leissner admitted that he lied to federal authorities when he was first arrested. He also acknowledged telling multiple lies to his former lovers and wives.
Mr. Ng’s lawyers have attacked Mr. Leissner’s credibility, calling him a two-time bigamist — a description that Mr. Leissner acknowledged was true. (Mr. Leissner and Ms. Simmons are currently estranged.)
Mr. Leissner said he presented the bogus divorce decree to Ms. Simmons when the couple were about to get married in 2014. He said he downloaded the decree from a website and altered it so it appeared authentic.
“I had misled her,” said Mr. Leissner, who at the time was still married to his second wife, Judy Chan. He also testified that he had married Ms. Chan before completing the divorce from his first wife — a separation he told the court he undertook in the Dominican Republic without her knowledge.
Mr. Leissner also said he had a longstanding affair with a top female executive at a Goldman client, in violation of the bank’s policy, and said he converted to Islam in part because he might someday marry her.
“I didn’t really mind what religion I had,” he said. “I did convert for the purposes of getting married.”
The cross-examination of Mr. Leissner is critical to the defense strategy of Mr. Ng, a former Goldman banker who federal prosecutors contend worked closely with Mr. Leissner in using money looted from the 1MDB fund to pay bribes to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. Mr. Ng’s defense team seeks to present Mr. Leissner as an inveterate liar whose testimony linking Mr. Ng to the bribery scheme cannot be trusted.
At one point, Marc Agnifilo, the lead defense lawyer for Mr. Ng, asked Mr. Leissner: “Is it hard to keep all these lies straight?” Mr. Leissner calmly replied, “No, sir.” He later said he regretted lying to all the women in his life. “I am not proud of it,” he said.
Testimony in the trial had been paused for several days to allow Mr. Ng’s lawyers time to review tens of thousands of emails and other private documents belonging to Mr. Leissner that the prosecution did not deliver until after the trial began. Prosecutors have said the delay was “inexcusable” and they blamed a separate team of government lawyers in Washington that is tasked with reviewing confidential files.
Mr. Agnifilo has said he was considering filing a motion for a mistrial or a dismissal of the charges because of the government’s actions, which he said impeded his ability to prepare for trial.