Former Goldman banker sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1MDB scandal

A former Goldman Sachs banker convicted last year for his role in looting billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Former banker Roger Ng was convicted of bribery and money laundering in April after a nearly two-month trial shed light on the role Mr Ng and others at Goldman had played in an international bribery scandal. Authorities said the scheme was devised by a Malaysian businessman, Jho Low, who was also charged alongside Mr Ng but was now a fugitive believed to be living in China.

Mr Ng, a former Goldman Asia executive, is the only person facing trial in the United States over the scandal that looted more than $4 billion from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, better known as 1MDB .

“Roger Ng was a key player in a brazen and audacious plan that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining public confidence in governments, markets, corporations and other institutions on a global scale,” Breon Peace said , the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Goldman was the lead banker in a series of bond deals that raised more than $6.5 billion for 1MDB – money rumored to fund public works projects in Malaysia. But authorities said much of that money was stolen by Mr. Low and his associates to pay $1.6 billion in bribes to more than a dozen government officials. The diverted money was also used to fund the lavish lifestyles of Mr. Low and his associates.

Federal prosecutors said others — including Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his family, and officials in Abu Dhabi — received hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes for approving Goldman as the lead underwriter for the bond deals. Mr Najib was removed from office and later sentenced to up to 12 years in prison by a Malaysian court.

The 1MDB bribery scandal severely damaged one of Wall Street’s most famous investment banks. In 2020, Goldman’s Malaysia subsidiary pleaded guilty to charges of overseas bribery and agreed to pay $5 billion in fines to prosecutors and regulators around the world. The bank’s parent company entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement on a similar charge.

Federal prosecutors said Mr Ng pocketed $35 million in proceeds from the 1MDB bond deals while Mr Low received $1 billion.

Tim Leissner, another former Goldman banker who pleaded guilty and testified against Mr Ng, received more than $65 million in kickbacks.

Mr. Leissner, who was Mr. Ng’s supervisor for part of the time they both worked at Goldman, was the prosecution’s star witness at the trial. He served on the witness stand for 10 days, including six days of fervent cross-examination, during which he admitted to being a prolific liar.

After his conviction, Mr Ng sued his former boss for $130 million in damages. The lawsuit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court is pending.

Last week, Brooklyn Federal District Court Judge Margo Brodie, who convicted Mr Ng and presided over the trial, ordered Mr Leissner to forfeit $43.7 million in cash along with just over three million shares he owned in a fitness drink company called Celsius holdings.

Mr Leissner, who has been out on bail since his guilty plea in 2018, is due to be sentenced in September.


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