Former Goldman Banker Stands Trial for 1MDB Corruption Scandal

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
February 9, 2022Updated: February 9, 2022

The corruption trial of a former Goldman Sachs banker began with jury selection on Monday in Brooklyn federal court, following his criminal charges linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal at the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Roger Ng, Goldman’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia, faced trial following a three-year delay due to the pandemic. The Malaysian citizen is the only former Goldman Sachs employee on trial in the United States for the 1MDB scandal.

Ng has pleaded not guilty to three counts of conspiracy to launder money and violate the U.S. anti-bribery law.

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on Feb. 14. Ng faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of all three charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Ng, his former boss Tim Leissner, fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, and others conspired to misappropriate more than $2.7 billion from 1MDB.

The money was used for personal benefits and to bribe Malaysian and Abu Dhabi government officials to obtain lucrative business, which resulted in Goldman Sachs earning around $600 million in revenues, according to the DOJ’s statement.

They also allegedly conspired to launder the embezzled money through the U.S. financial system by purchasing luxury residential real estate and artwork, and by funding major Hollywood films, among other things.

Ng was charged in Malaysia with four counts of abetting the bank to provide misleading statements in the offering prospectus for 1MDB bond sales, and was arrested in November 2018.

He was extradited to the United States six months later and was granted bail in May 2019 in exchange for a $20 million bond, with the condition that he wears an electronic ankle bracelet and be limited to traveling within New York City.

Goldman Sachs in 2020 agreed to pay more than $2.9 billion in penalties, including $600 million in profit from the 1MDB scandal.

Leissner, a former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, had pleaded guilty in 2018 and agreed to forfeit $43.7 million. He will be sentenced in March.

Low has maintained his innocence and remains at large. Malaysian authorities have revoked his passport, issued an arrest demand, and applied for an Interpol red alert against him.

The Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB was established by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to fund investment and economic development projects. But U.S. investigators alleged that at least $4.5 billion had been stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s cronies, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped raise.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million ($50 million) in July 2020 after being found guilty of transferring RM42 million ($9.9 million) from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB, into his bank accounts.

Reuters contributed to this report.