Jho Low, the Malaysian financier and international fugitive accused of masterminding the 1MDB scandal, wagered $87 million on the Venetian’s VIP baccarat tables. That’s according to Kirk Godby, a Venetian marketing executive, who was testifying in front of a federal jury in New York Thursday.
Godby was giving evidence in the trial of former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng, who has been charged by the US government with money laundering and bribing foreign officials. Federal prosecutors accuse Ng of helping Low ransack US$4.5 billion from the Malaysian sovereign investment fund, known 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Ng and his former boss at Goldman Sachs, Tim Leissner, underwrote three bond deals totaling US$3 billion for the 1MDB fund that were allegedly plundered by Low. Prosecutors say they aided the rogue financier in return for millions of dollars in kickbacks.
Ng denies the charges. His lawyers say he is being scapegoated by Leissner, who is testifying for the prosecution in return for a lighter sentence. Leissner was exposed as a double bigamist during an earlier hearing this week, as Ng’s legal team sought to paint him as an unreliable witness.
Who is Jho Low?
Godby was in court to shed a light on the flamboyant lifestyle that Low enjoyed, allegedly with money stolen from 1MDB, until the scheme began to unravel in 2015.
The casino executive acknowledged that Low, real name Low Taek Jho, was one of the Venetian’s biggest whales. He once lost $1.75 million in a 90-monute baccarat session at the casino. Of the $87 million he risked at the casino’s high-stakes tables, he dropped a total of $26 million.
Godby also described the extravagant demands Low made while he gambled, which he described as “parallel to none.” These included that the casino provide disco balls, dance floors, and DJs in the VIP room.
Low was an international jetsetter who once dated the model Miranda Kerr and showered his celebrity friends with lavish gifts. In 2011, he allegedly purchased a $325,000 white Ferrari as a wedding gift for Kim Kardashian and showered Leonardi DiCaprio Picassos and Basquiats, which he has since returned.
He even funded Hollywood movies, investing $100 million in the production of the Oscar-nominated Wolf of Wall Street, ironically a movie that deals with themes of fraud and reckless corporate greed.
The 1MDB fund was founded in 2009 with then prime-minister Najib Razak at its helm. In 2015, Razak was accused of channeling US$700 million into his own personal bank account. In 2018, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption.
While Low held no official position on the 1MDB fund, the US government claims he is the mastermind of what Ng’s defense lawyers have described as “perhaps the single largest heist in the history of the world.”
He is believed to be hiding out in China.
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