Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

DOJ charges Malaysian financier, Goldman Sachs bankers in money laundering case

DOJ charges Malaysian financier, Goldman Sachs bankers in money laundering case

Also charged was Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whom prosecutors have depicted as being a mastermind of a scheme to misappropriate money from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Goldman Sachs underwrote about US$6.5 billion in bonds issued by 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund set up to help develop the country, according to the United States government.

As part of the three-count indictment, the department said Ng is also charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing the internal accounting controls of a major New York-headquartered financial institution, which underwrote more than US$6 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB in three separate bond offerings in 2012 and 2013, while he was working at Goldman as a managing director. Before facing criminal charges, Low became well known in the New York City and Los Angeles club scenes.

Lawyers for Low and Leissner did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

He is cooperating with DOJ investigators, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While US prosecutors have previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds, these are the first criminal charges the Justice Department has brought against individuals in the case under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law targeting official bribery overseas.

These are the first criminal charges brought in the case, and the indictment accuses the men of laundering dirty money through the US financial system by purchasing luxury New York City real estate, artwork from an unnamed New York-based auction houses, and by funding unspecified major Hollywood productions.

In a statement dated November 1 that reiterated earlier comments, Low asked that people "keep an open mind" and said evidence will vindicate him.

In earlier statements, Low said he would not "submit to any jurisdiction" where he could not get a fair trial, especially Malaysia.

In a speech past year in Washington, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions denounced the scandal as "kleptocracy at its worst".

The Malaysian government is now seeking restitution from Goldman.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up the fund, in which Low played a key role.

Low and Leissner were also caught in intercepted online chats in 2014 discussing how to "suck up" to an 1MDB official, and planning to send "cakes" to a woman they believed was the wife of another government official, per court docs. Benjamin said that Low held no formal position at 1MDB and wasn't employed by Goldman Sachs or the governments of Malaysia or Abu Dhabi. A parliamentary inquiry found many irregularities but had no mandate to prosecute.

Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing in connection with alleged graft involving 1MDB.

Najib and Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the former treasury secretary-general, pleaded not guilty to misappropriating government funds between December 2016 and December 2017.

An investigation by the Journal revealed millions linked to the fund ended up in Najib's personal bank accounts.

The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib.

Like this: