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Former Goldman Sachs boss jailed for multi-billion bribery and money laundering scandal

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A former Goldman Sachs managing director has been jailed for 10 years for his part in a massive bribery and money laundering scandal in Malaysia.

Roger Ng was sent to prison for his role in the multibillion dollar operation, which involved Malaysia’s state-owned investment and development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division revealed the extent of the scheme in the south-east Asian country.

READ MORE: Malaysia’s PM looted national wealth fund

Speaking after sentencing on Thursday, March 10, he said: “Today, Roger Ng was sentenced for his role in a massive and egregious bribery and money laundering scheme involving the bribery of high-level foreign officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates and theft of billions of dollars meant to benefit the Malaysian people.

"The Justice Department remains firmly committed to holding accountable individuals who engage in corruption, undermine the rule of law, and abuse our financial system to launder their illicit funds.  This sentence sends a strong message to criminals around the world:  if you violate our laws, we will bring you to justice.”

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Court documents show Ng Chong Hwa, AKA Roger Ng, and his co-conspirators laundered billions of dollars misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1MDB, including funds 1MDB raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions it executed with Goldman Sachs.

One of the gang was Tim Leissner, who conspired with Ng to pay more than $1 billion in bribes to 12 government officials in Malaysia and the UAE to to obtain and retain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs, including the 2012 and 2013 bond deals.

The gang conspired to launger the proceeds of their crime through the U.S Financial System, using the money to pay for major Hollywood films like “The Wolf of Wall Street."

They also bought a $51 million Jean-Michel Basquiat painting from New York-based Christie’s auction house, a $23 million diamond necklace from a New York jeweler, millions of dollars in Hermès handbags from a dealer based on Long Island, and luxury real estate in Manhattan.

"A brazen and audacious scheme"

U .S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, said: “Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also undermined the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale,”

“Today’s sentence serves as a just punishment for the defendant’s crimes and a stern warning that there is a significant price to pay for corporate corruption.”

One of the gang was Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, a wealthy Malaysian socialite.

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They used his close relationships with high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and the UAE, to offer bribes.

They also circumvented the bank's internal accounting controls.

Through its work for 1MDB during that time, Goldman Sachs received approximately $600 million in fees and revenue, while Ng received $35 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme.

In total, Ng and his co-conspirators stole more than $2.7 billion from 1MDB.

Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division said: “This sentencing sends a strong message that those who abuse the U.S. financial system for their own gain will be held accountable.

“The FBI and our domestic and international partners remain committed to combating international corruption and will continue to investigate and pursue those who perpetrate complex criminal schemes for profit.”

  • In August 2018, Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA. Leissner agreed to forfeit $43 million and shares of stock valued at more than $200 million and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Low was indicted in November 2018 and remains a fugitive.

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In October 2020, Goldman Sachs and Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (GS Malaysia), its Malaysian subsidiary, admitted to conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA in connection with the scheme.

Goldman Sachs entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

GS Malaysia pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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Goldman Sachs paid more than $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and elsewhere.

In April 2022, Ng was found guilty by a jury of conspiring to violate the FCPA and conspiring to launder billions of dollars.

The FBI’s International Corruption Unit and IRS-CI investigated the case.

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