Convicted former Goldman Sachs banker joins efforts to recover 1MDB fund assets

Estimated read time 3 min read

A | a-+=

A former Goldman Sachs executive who was convicted in the United States for his involvement in the embezzlement of a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund has been returned to Malaysia to aid in recovering the misappropriated assets.

Roger Ng Chong Hwa, a Malaysian citizen, is currently in police custody in Kuala Lumpur. He was convicted in a U.S. District Court in Brooklyn last year and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ng and his associates were accused of assisting the Malaysian fund, 1MDB, in raising $6.5 billion through bond sales, but they were involved in a scheme that diverted more than two-thirds of the funds, some of which were used for bribes and kickbacks. Ng has denied charges of money laundering conspiracy and violating two anti-bribery laws.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s recent government, which took office last November, is aiming to reevaluate a settlement agreement with Goldman Sachs that was negotiated by the previous administration in 2020. The current government believes that the previous deal was too lenient. According to the agreement, Goldman Sachs is obligated to pay $2.5 billion and ensure the return of $1.4 billion worth of 1MDB assets that had been seized. In exchange, Malaysia would drop charges against the bank.

The 1MDB scandal, marked by theft and attempts at cover-up, led to a significant upheaval in Malaysia’s government. In the aftermath, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak faced a resounding defeat in the 2018 general elections. He began serving a 12-year jail term last year after exhausting all appeals in the first of numerous trials connected to the 1MDB saga. This series of events represented a seismic shift in Malaysian politics.

The repercussions of the 1MDB scandal also extended to Hollywood, as some of the embezzled funds were used to finance extravagant parties, a luxurious superyacht, high-end real estate, and even the 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the scheme, remains an international fugitive, adding an element of international intrigue to the case.

Ng’s legal defense argued that he was made a scapegoat for Low and a fellow Goldman Sachs banker also implicated in the scheme. Tim Leissner, Ng’s former superior at Goldman Sachs, admitted guilt in 2018 for bribing government officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. He was ordered to pay $43.7 million and played a pivotal role as a government witness during Ng’s two-month trial. Ng contended that Leissner implicated him in order to secure a more lenient sentence, while Leissner’s sentencing is still pending.

(Source: Eileen Ng | Associated Press | Norman Goh | Nikkei Asia)

You May Also Like