Ex-Goldman banker convicted in looting billions from Malaysian fund

A former Goldman Sachs banker was convicted on Friday of bribery and money laundering stemming from one of the biggest global kleptocracy cases in history: the looting of a billion-dollar Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

A federal jury found former banker Roger Ng guilty after a nearly two-month trial that was delayed by several days because federal prosecutors were slow to provide the defendant with potentially critical documents and the government’s key cooperating witness admitted a frequent liar in business and personal affairs Affairs.

After more than two days of deliberations, the jury found Mr. Ng guilty on all three counts. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

The trial, which began in mid-February in federal court in Brooklyn, is believed to be the only criminal case in the US related to the Malaysian fund 1MDB scandal. More than $4 billion in stolen money funded a lavish lifestyle for powerful Malaysians and others, buying paintings by van Gogh and Monet, paying for luxury real estate from London to Beverly Hills, and funding the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street “.

Jho Low, the pro-spending Malaysian businessman and the programme’s architect, has been charged along with Mr Ng, but he is a refugee and is believed to be living in China. Tim Leissner, a former Goldman partner and government key witness at the trial, is due to be sentenced this summer; He pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering charges in 2018.

Mr. Low pocketed nearly $1 billion in diverted funds from a series of bond offerings Goldman arranged for the 1MDB fund. Mr Leissner received more than $60 million in kickbacks and prosecutors said Mr Ng received $35 million in illicit proceeds.

Federal prosecutors said others – including the former Malaysian prime minister and officials in Abu Dhabi – received hundreds of millions in bribes for allowing Goldman to be the lead signatory to the bond deals.

Mr. Leissner, once a rising star at Goldman in Asia, was at the booth for 10 days, including six days of vigorous cross-examination. While on the witness stand, Mr. Leissner admitted to being a prolific liar: He had to admit that he initially lied to federal agents, his partners at Goldman, and his girlfriends and wives, including Kimora Lee Simmons, the model and fashion designer. (The couple, who have two children, are estranged.)

An attorney for Mr Ng told jurors during closing arguments that Mr Leissner could not be trusted to tell the truth, including his involvement in the bribery and kickback scheme. But prosecutors said Mr Leissner told the truth about the crimes Mr Ng was charged with, including a $35 million payment that authorities said was an illegal bribe payment.

Mr Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified that the $35 million she and her husband received were the proceeds of a $6 million investment she made with Mr Leissner’s second wife many years ago , Judy Chan.

Mr Ng’s trial was an unusual example of a manager testifying against a subordinate. In high-profile corporate crime cases, key cooperating witnesses are often used to build cases against senior company executives. But in Mr. Leissner’s case, his cooperation was used by federal prosecutors not only to prove the charges against Mr. Ng, but also to build a criminal case against his former employer.

Mr. Leissner’s cooperation resulted in Goldman Sachs’ Malaysia subsidiary pleading guilty to a single indictment of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – the first instance in which Goldman appeared before a US judge and admitted to a crime to have made guilty.

The bank agreed to pay $2.3 billion in fines to federal agencies and billions more to agencies in other countries, including Malaysia. The bank itself has also entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the US authorities.

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