Closing arguments to begin in ex-Goldman banker’s 1MDB corruption trial By Reuters


© Reuters. Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo leave the federal court in New York, U.S., May 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/


By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the U.S. trial of a former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:) banker accused of helping loot hundreds of millions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB development fund.

Prosecutors say Roger Ng, Goldman’s former top investment banker for Malaysia, helped his then-boss Tim Leissner embezzle money from the fund, launder the proceeds and bribe officials to win business for Goldman.

Ng, 49, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to launder money and violate an anti-corruption law. His lawyer Marc Agnifilo acknowledged that he introduced Leissner to Jho Low – a Malaysian financier accused of being the scheme’s mastermind – but said Ng had no role in looting 1MDB.

The charges stem from one of the biggest financial scandals in history. U.S. prosecutors say Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion through three bond sales, but that $4.5 billion of those funds was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks.

Ng is the first – and likely only – person to face trial in the United States over the scheme.

Leissner, 52, pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2018 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Goldman in 2020 paid a nearly $3 billion fine and arranged for its Malaysian unit to plead guilty in U.S. court.

During the nearly two-month trial in Brooklyn federal court, jurors heard from more than two dozen witnesses. Leissner, the government’s star witness, testified in February that he sent Ng $35 million in kickbacks from the scheme.

He said the two men agreed to tell the banks processing the transfers a “cover story” that the money was from a legitimate business venture between the two men’s wives.

Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified last week that she invested $6 million in the mid-2000s in a Chinese company owned by the family of Leissner’s then-wife, Judy Chan. She said the $35 million prosecutors characterize as Ng’s kickbacks were in fact her return on that investment.

Low, who was indicted in 2018 alongside Ng, remains at large. Malaysian authorities say Low is in China, which Beijing denies.

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