Former Goldman Banker Gets 10 Years in Prison in 1MDB Scandal
A former Goldman Sachs banker convicted last year for his role in the looting of billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Thursday.
The former banker, Roger Ng, was convicted of bribery and money-laundering charges in April after a nearly two-month trial that shined a light on the role that Mr. Ng and others at Goldman had played in an international bribery scandal. The authorities said the scheme was engineered by a Malaysian businessman, Jho Low, who was also indicted along with Mr. Ng but was now a fugitive believed to be living in China.
Mr. Ng, a former managing director for Goldman in Asia, is the only person to go to trial in the United States over the scandal that looted more than $4 billion from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, better known as 1MDB.
“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale,” Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
Goldman was the main banker on a series of bond deals that raised more than $6.5 billion for 1MDB — money that ostensibly was going to pay for public works projects in Malaysia. But the authorities said much of that money was stolen by Mr. Low and his associates to pay $1.6 billion in bribes to more than a dozen government officials. The diverted money also went to fund the lavish lifestyles of Mr. Low and his associates.
Federal prosecutors have said others — including Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, and his family as well as officials in Abu Dhabi — had gotten hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes for approving Goldman as the main underwriter on the bond deals. Mr. Najib was ousted from power and was later convicted by a Malaysian court and sentenced to up to 12 years in jail.
The 1MDB bribery scandal was a major reputational blow to one of Wall Street’s most storied investment banks. In 2020, Goldman’s subsidiary in Malaysia pleaded guilty to foreign bribery charges and agreed to pay $5 billion in fines to federal prosecutors and regulators around the globe. The bank’s parent company entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement on a similar charge.
Federal prosecutors said that Mr. Ng pocketed $35 million in proceeds from the 1MDB bond deals while Mr. Low got $1 billion.
Tim Leissner, another former Goldman banker who pleaded guilty and testified against Mr. Ng, received more than $65 million in kickbacks.
Mr. Leissner, who was Mr. Ng’s supervisor for some of the time they both worked at Goldman, was the prosecution’s star witness during the trial. He was on the stand for 10 days, including six days of a blistering cross-examination, during which he admitted to being a prolific liar.
After his conviction, Mr. Ng sued his former boss seeking $130 million in damages. The lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court is pending.
Last week, Judge Margo Brodie of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, who sentenced Mr. Ng and presided over the trial, ordered Mr. Leissner to forfeit $43.7 million in cash along with just over three million shares he had in a fitness drink company called Celsius Holdings.
Mr. Leissner, who has been free on bail since pleading guilty in 2018, is scheduled to be sentenced in September.