Model-turned-fashion-designer Kimora Lee Simmons’ husband, Tim Leissner, today pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to a Malaysian money laundering scandal.
Leissner was chairman of Goldman Sachs’ Southeast Asia business, but he resigned in 2016 and was subsequently subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department as part of a probe into the disappearance of billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB that was designed to boost the country’s economy and for which he helped raise money.
Leissner, another former Goldman Sachs banker, Roger Ng, and a Malaysian financier Jho Low were charged today by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn over their alleged role in the loss of funds from 1MDB. These were the first U.S. criminal charges surrounding the scandal.
Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and violate foreign anti-bribery laws, allegedly bribing officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. He has been ordered to forfeit $43.7 million, according to court filings. Ng, a managing director at the investment bank until 2014, was arrested this week in Malaysia, while Low is on the run.
It was reported last year by the New York Post that it was widely believed Leissner funded Simmons’ entry-level designer label Kimora Lee Simmons, but the Los Angeles-based mother of four told WWD at the time that this was not the case and the newspaper later publicly apologized.
“I’ve been around for quite some time. I’m an old lady so I’ve always been self-sustaining, self-funded. I’ve had Baby Phat and at one point Phat Farm, too. I’ve had Couture by Kimora, Fabulosity, KLS so this is not my first ride at the rodeo. I’ve had six or seven successful fragrances,” she said last year.
“I fund my own business.…I’ve been in the fashion industry since [age] 12, modeling and all that. So all my money, not that I want to say it that way, this is my third marriage that I’m on so, no, my husband has nothing to do with my professional life.”
On whether she consults with her husband about her company, she said, “He’s a financial person and I’m a fashion person, so I wouldn’t say that really. And I’ve been doing this for kind of a long time. Probably more my young girls give me a little more fashion advice.”
Simmons did not respond to request for comment on the latest developments.