NEW YORK (AP) — A federal jury in Brooklyn will hear opening statements Monday in the corruption trial of a former Goldman Sachs executive accused of plundering billions of dollars from a Malaysian public investment fund.
Roger Ng’s own lawyers describe the $4.5 billion looting of public investment fund 1MDB as “perhaps the biggest heist in the history of the world”. But they argue U.S. prosecutors scapegoated the former banker for Goldman’s “company-wide” failures that enabled the colossal fraud.
In fact, according to his lawyers, it was Ng who raised the first red flags about Low Taek Jho, the Malaysian financier and fugitive known as Jho Low, accused of orchestrating the massive money laundering scheme. money and corruption.
Federal prosecutors say the embezzlement funded lavish spending on jewelry, art, a superyacht and luxury real estate. The loot has even helped fund Hollywood movies, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
A former head of investment banking in Malaysia, Ng is the only Goldman banker to stand trial in the 1MDB scandal. Proceedings in federal court in Brooklyn are expected to take several weeks.
Ng, 49, pleaded not guilty to counts of conspiracy to launder money and violating an anti-corruption law. Federal prosecutors say he conspired with Low to launder stolen funds through the US financial system. They say he played a key role in a scheme in which the laundered money was also used to bribe foreign officials.
Marc Agnifilo, Ng’s defense attorney, declined to comment. Agnifilo wrote in court documents that Ng “was absolutely not involved in the stunning crimes committed by others”. Ng’s only role, he said, was to introduce Low to “much more involved” superiors at Goldman.
“In perhaps the most astonishing twist of the case, it was Roger Ng who, as early as March 2010, specifically warned his superiors at Goldman that Low was a politically exposed person, not to be trusted. Low and that Goldman should exercise caution in dealing with Low,” the defense attorney wrote.
A message has been sent to Goldman Sachs seeking comment. A subsidiary of Goldman Sachs has “knowingly and willfully” admitted to conspiring to violate US anti-corruption laws, agreeing to pay more than $2.9 billion. The penalties included approximately $600 million in profits Goldman made from the 1MDB scandal. This is on top of the $3.9 billion Goldman paid to Malaysia.
Low, who maintains his innocence, has become well known in the New York and Los Angeles club scenes. In 2012, he threw a lavish 31st birthday party with DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities in attendance – a party described by The Wall Street Journal as the “craziest party (Las) Vegas has ever seen”.
Bond sales organized by Goldman Sachs for investment fund 1MDB have allowed associates of Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister, to steal and launder billions over several years.
Najib created 1MDB when he took power in 2009, ostensibly to accelerate Malaysia’s economic development. But the fund racked up billions in debt and, in 2018, finally brought down its government. In 2020, he was found guilty in Malaysia of abuse of power and other charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Another former Goldman banker, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty in 2018 to paying millions of dollars in kickbacks and kickbacks to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. He was ordered to give up $43.7 million as part of his guilty plea and is expected to testify against Ng.