A former Goldman Sachs banker who once gambled and partied with 1MDB fugitive Jho Low has been convicted of money laundering and bribery.
Prosecutors said Roger Ng, 49, helped his high stakes gambling buddy Low ransack billions from Malaysia’s sovereign fund, 1MDB, in one of the biggest financial scandals in history.
They said Ng conspired with his boss at Goldman, Tim Leissner, to embezzle and launder money from the fund, while paying kickbacks to foreign officials to get more business for the bank.
Leissner and Ng convinced Goldman to sign off three bond deals totaling $6.5 billion for the 1MDB fund, which was meant for development and infrastructure projects to benefit Malaysia’s poor.
But the US government believes around $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and diverted to crooked government officials and bankers.
Follow the Money
Around $700 million turned up in personal bank accounts controlled by Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister, Najib Razak. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2018 for corruption.
Low, the accused mastermind, used the 1MDB fund as his personal bank account, according to prosecutors. He splurged on high-stakes gambling, a $126 million yacht, and luxury properties in Manhattan, Beverley Hills, and London. He also used the money to brownnose celebrities.
He showered Leonardo DiCaprio with Picassos and Basquiats (now returned), and presented Kim Kardashian with a $325,000 white Ferrari as a wedding present.
He invested $100 million into the Osar-nominated Wolf of Wall Street, ironically a movie about reckless greed and excess. This money almost certainly came from the 1MDB fund.
Low was one of the biggest whales at the Venetian Las Vegas. He gambled $87 million on its VIP tables in the spate of a few years, dropping a total of $26 million.
He maintained a “personal relationship” with Ng, prosecutors said. He once flew the banker from Singapore to Las Vegas on his private jet to go gambling.
Ng received $35 million in kickbacks for his role in the scheme, according to Leissner, who pleaded guilty to similar charges and was the star witness for the prosecution.
Star Witness Bigamist
Ng’s defense team claimed their client was scapegoated by Leissner, who they said was deflecting blame in the hope of a lesser sentence. On the witness stand, they painted him as a “habitual liar” and exposed him as a double bigamist.
Summing up Monday, prosecutors told the jury there was enough evidence to convict Ng without Leissner’s testimony.
On Friday, the jury obliged.
Today’s verdict is a victory for not only the rule of law, but also for the people of Malaysia,” Breon Peace, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “The defendant and his cronies saw 1MDB not as an entity to do good for the people of Malaysia, but as a piggy bank to enrich themselves.”
Ng’s lawyer told the Associated Press his client could appeal, depending on post-trial motions and his sentence.
Ng faces up to 30 years in prison.
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