Former Goldman Sachs head of investment banking for Malaysia Roger Ng has been convicted of bribery and corruption related to the theft of $4.5 billion from the state investment fund 1MDB. The banker was found guilty on Friday following a two-month trial in Brooklyn federal court.
Despite the participation of several others in the scheme, including its alleged mastermind, Malaysian financier Jho Low, Ng was the only Goldman Sachs banker to end up on trial, pleading not guilty to conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. While his defense lawyers acknowledged that the theft was “perhaps the single largest heist in the history of the world,” they insist American prosecutors scapegoated Ng for the crimes of others who gave evidence to the government, specifically fellow Goldman banker Tim Leissner.
After raising $6.5 billion for 1MDB through bond sales, Ng and his co-conspirators diverted $4.5 billion from the massive sum into bribes, kickbacks, and a slew of luxury purchases. Their ill-gotten gains included a giant $200 million yacht, jewelry, art, and real estate, and they bankrolled wild parties, even investing in the 2013 Leo DiCaprio film “Wolf of Wall Street” – itself the story of an investment banker who financed his lavish lifestyle by defrauding wealthy clients.
Ng “is basically the fall guy for this whole thing,” his defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo declared in his closing arguments, adding that “Tim Leissner is looking to close the biggest deal of his life.” Leissner, who was Ng’s boss at Goldman, “never stopped lying ever, and he didn’t stop lying in this courtroom,” the attorney claimed, arguing that the banker had falsely implicated Ng and made up stories to curry favor with the government.