A former Goldman Sachs banker should be convicted of helping loot billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund and causing “immeasurable” harm, a U.S. prosecutor told jurors in her closing argument on Monday.
Roger Ng, Goldman’s former top investment banker for Malaysia, faces charges he helped his former boss Tim Leissner embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, launder the proceeds and bribe officials to win business for Goldman.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith said Ng received more than $35-million in kickbacks from the “brazen” bribery and money laundering scheme, and must be held accountable.
“The harm to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable,” she said. “It is deeply unfair to everyone else who plays by the rules.”
Ng, 49, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating an anti-corruption law.
Leissner, 52, pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2018 and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors as their star witness against Ng.
Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo was expected to begin his closing argument later Monday afternoon.
The nearly two-month trial stemmed from one of the biggest financial scandals in history.
U.S. prosecutors have said Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5-billion through three bond sales, but that $4.5-billion was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks.
Ng is the first, and likely only, person to face trial in the United States over the scheme. Goldman in 2020 paid a nearly $3-billion fine and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty.
Agnifilo has said his client introduced Leissner to Malaysian financier Jho Low, the scheme’s suspected mastermind, but Ng had no role in looting 1MDB.
He also accused Leissner of falsely implicating Ng in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
Smith acknowledged that Leissner was seeking leniency by testifying, but said other testimony backed up his story.
“What he told you about the crimes he committed with the defendant and others is backed up by and consistent with other evidence,” Smith said. “You already know the defendant is guilty from the other evidence in the case.”
Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified last week that she invested $6-million in the mid-2000s in a Chinese company owned by the family of Leissner’s then-wife, Judy Chan.
She said the $35-million in alleged kickbacks to her husband were in fact her return on that investment.
Leissner testified that he sent Ng $35-million in kickbacks with the men agreeing to tell banks processing the transfers a “cover story” that the money was from a legitimate business venture between their wives.
Low was indicted in 2018 alongside Ng, and remains at large. Malaysian authorities say Low is in China, which Beijing denies.
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