Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

U.S. charges 2 ex-Goldman Sachs bankers in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal

U.S. charges 2 ex-Goldman Sachs bankers in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal

JHO Low, the Malaysian financer at the centre of the country's corruption scandal, and two other high-flying Goldman Sachs bankers were slapped with formal charges in the U.S. on Thursday for embezzling billions from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

The suspects are believed to be connected to money laundering and embezzlement of one billion dollars from Malaysia's state-run wealth fund - 1MDB.

"We would like to find him first, but it doesn't matter who gets him because we will get access to him too", he said, commenting on the global cooperation against the alleged culprit behind the 1MDB financial scandal.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up the fund, in which Low played a key role.

News reports yesterday said former senior Goldman Sachs banker in Asia Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to USA bribery and money laundering charges. "The charges that were leveled, there were no indication or no accusation of benefiting, personally benefiting, from the decisions we have taken". Low, who was also indicted, remains at large.

Goldman Sachs itself was not charged.

News reports say Ng has been arrested in Malaysia.

In earlier statements, Low said he would not "submit to any jurisdiction" where he could not get a fair trial, especially Malaysia.

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Goldman has, in the past, repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and said it is cooperating fully with the authorities.

The criminal indictment, unsealed in NY, also charged Jho Low and Ng Chong Hwa, a former Goldman Sachs banker also known as Roger Ng, with paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. The 93-year-old is now prime minister and reopened the probe into the 1MDB fund. Police have also seized hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash - worth more than $266 million - during raids on apartments linked to Najib's family.

Charges were filed in Malaysia in August against Low.

Prosecutors have previously gone after assets they claim were tainted by monies stolen from hedge fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd - including targeting profits from the film The Wolf of Wall Street, a Bombardier jet, New York City and Los Angeles real estate, and works by Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

Mr Leissner, who served as Goldman's South East Asia chairman and a participating managing director, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violate United States anti-bribery laws.

Ng was also charged with conspiring to violate the internal controls at Goldman Sachs, which underwrote more than US$6 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB.

US prosecutors had painted Low as a bon vivant and a central figure who set up shell companies and arranged the transfers of tens of millions of dollars to pay Malaysian government officials, while Singapore investigators have called him a "key person of interest".

Ng was arrested yesterday in Malaysia by his officers to assist the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in its investigations, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh told The Star. In total, more than US$2.7 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB. It was not immediately clear who is representing Ng.

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