A federal prosecutor told jurors Monday they had found enough evidence to convict a former Goldman Sachs banker for his role in one of the world’s largest money laundering and bribery schemes without testimony from government witnesses.
“You already know from other evidence in the case that the defendant is guilty,” said Alixandra E. Smith, an assistant US attorney, during the government’s closing argument in Roger Ng’s trial in federal court in Brooklyn.
Mr Ng is accused of receiving $35 million in illegal kickbacks from a scheme to steal billions of dollars from once-major Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
During the course of the trial, Tim Leissner, a former Goldman partner who pleaded guilty and became the government’s star witness, emerged as a controversial figure, and it’s not surprising that prosecutors don’t want the jury to get too carried away his statement concentrated.
During a grueling six-day cross-examination, he admitted to having lied a great deal in his life. He had to admit that he initially lied to federal agents, his colleagues at Goldman, and his wives and girlfriends.
But Ms Smith said Mr Leissner did not lie when testifying in federal court in Brooklyn the key facts of the program, which was funded through a series of bond offerings Goldman arranged for the 1MDB fund.
When it came time for Mr Ng’s attorney to present his closing arguments, he wasted no time in calling Mr Leissner. The lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said Mr Leissner is a man who “will lie when it suits his interests”. He said that despite what prosecutors said, without Mr Leissner’s testimony, the government could not link Mr Ng to the conspiracy to steal billions from the 1MDB fund.
“There is no evidence linking Roger,” Mr Agnifilo said. “There is no such thing as dirty email. No bad texts.”
By contrast, Mr Agnifilo said the jury saw text messages in which Mr Leissner was instructed on whom to pay bribes by Jho Low, a flamboyant Malaysian businessman who was the architect of the plan and is believed to be a fugitive while living in China.
Mr. Agnifilo said Mr. Leissner lied to the jury just as he had at other times in his life.
“It’s a life of lies,” said Mr. Agnifilo. “It’s on a rare level.”
Last week the jury heard testimony from Mr Ng’s wife Hwee Bin Lim, who said the $35 million she and her husband received were the proceeds of a $6 million investment she made with Mr Leissner’s second wife, Judy Chan.
The defense has argued that Mr Ng and his wife were unaware that some of the money Ms Chan sent them had been looted by 1MDB. Mr. Leissner has admitted to raking in tens of millions of dollars in illegal revenue from the scheme.
The case could go before the jury as early as Tuesday afternoon.