Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng found guilty in billion-dollar 1MDB scandal

Roger Ng in 2019. Ng is the first and likely only person to face trial in the United States over the scheme.
Roger Ng in 2019. Ng is the first and likely only person to face trial in the United States over the scheme. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters

The former Goldman Sachs executive Roger Ng has been found guilty of helping to steal billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund after a lengthy trial brought by US prosecutors, who described the fraud as one the largest financial scandals in history and who hoped to show that individuals are always at the center of corporate wrongdoing.

A New York jury found Ng, 49, once Goldman’s top investment banker in Malaysia, guilty of helping his former boss Tim Leissner embezzle money intended for development to benefit Malaysia’s poor from a fund connected to Malaysia’s then prime minister, Najib Razak, and then to launder the proceeds while bribing officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.

Ng had pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and money-laundering under US foreign anti-corruption laws. Ng’s lawyers had claimed that Leissner, a cooperating government witness who pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2018, had falsely implicated him.

The charges against both men stemmed from a scheme in which Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5bn through three bond sales. But $4.5bn was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates between 2009 and 2015.

The funds were used, in part, to fund the lavish lifestyle of the fugitive Malaysian playboy Jho Low, who embarked on an eye-popping spending spree, including luxury apartments, yachts, impressionist artworks and film projects including Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

Ng is the first and probably only person to face trial in the United States over the scheme. Goldman in 2020 paid nearly $3bn in fines, and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty.

During the trial, Leissner testified for nine days as defense lawyers questioned his credibility, and drew attention to claims that he was married to two different women when he married Kimora Lee Simmons, the model, reality TV star and Baby Phat designer, in 2014.

“Tim Leissner uses people,” Ng’s defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo told jurors last month. He was “married to two different women at the same time, twice” and had an “illicit” relationship with another, Agnifilo said in opening statements. Agnifilo said in closing arguments that Leissner could not be trusted.

But jurors rejected that argument and sided with prosecutors.

The verdict represents a win for the US Department of Justice, which has been looking to hold individuals responsible for crimes conducted under a corporate cloak, in this case Goldman Sachs.

Those principles were set out in a 2015 memo by then deputy US attorney general, Sally Yates, who that stated “a corporation only acts through individuals, investigating the conduct of individuals is the most efficient and effective way to determine the facts and extent of any corporate misconduct”.

The memo was updated in 2020 with a set of principles, that argued individual accountability “deters future illegal activity, incentivizes changes in corporate behavior, ensures that the proper parties are held responsible for their actions, and promotes the public’s confidence in our justice system”.

Related Stories
US jury convicts ex-Goldman banker in 1MDB scandal
New York (AFP) - A New York jury on Friday convicted a former Goldman Sachs banker for his role in…
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
Former Goldman Banker Roger Ng Found Guilty Of Looting Billions From Malaysian State Fund
Ng was convicted on bribery and money laundering charges after a nearly two-month trial in the 1MDB case.
Former Goldman Sachs banker found guilty in 1MDB scheme
Roger Ng pleaded not guilty to three counts, including conspiring to launder money.
Ex-Goldman banker convicted of bribery, money laundering conspiracy charges in 1MDB case
Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng was convicted by a U.S. jury on Friday of corruption charges related to his…
Ex-Goldman Sachs banker convicted in £3.4bn plot to loot Malaysian state fund
A former Goldman Sachs banker has been convicted of bribery and other corruption charges accusing him of participating in a…
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
Former Goldman Sachs banker convicted of bribery, money laundering and conspiracy charges in 1MDB case
Roger Ng is convicted by a US jury of corruption charges related to his role in helping embezzle hundreds of…