The worldwide scandal over the looting of an enormous Malaysian infrastructure fund practically a decade in the past — a criminal offense that tarnished the popularity of one among Wall Road’s premier banks — is about to play out as soon as once more in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
The felony cash laundering and bribery trial of Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker, will start Monday, with opening arguments and federal prosecutors calling their first witnesses.
The trial comes practically 4 years after Mr. Ng, 49, a Malaysian resident, was indicted by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. And it comes 16 months after Goldman pleaded guilty to a felony cost and paid $5 billion in fines for its position within the far-reaching international corruption bribery scheme.
Jho Low, the accused mastermind of the scheme to loot greater than $4 billion from the massive Malaysian fund often called 1MDB, stays a fugitive and is believed to be dwelling in China. Tim Leissner, the previous Goldman accomplice who pleaded responsible in the summertime of 2018 and has been cooperating with the federal government, is predicted to be the prosecution’s star witness. He might start testifying as quickly as this week.
Mr. Ng and Mr. Leissner labored collectively at Goldman in Asia. Mr. Ng is alleged to have launched his former accomplice and others on the financial institution to Mr. Low in 2009. On the time, Mr. Low was a younger and flamboyant businessman who had befriended many Hollywood celebrities. He was identified for throwing lavish Las Vegas events and shopping for up costly properties in Los Angeles and New York.
Prosecutors have charged that the three males and others plotted to pay $1 billion in bribes to prime officers in Malaysia and different international locations in order that Goldman might prepare $6.5 billion in bond choices for 1MDB, a authorities fund that was alleged to pay for tasks to learn the Malaysian folks. However as a substitute, prosecutors contend, a lot of that cash was diverted to pay for the bribes and to line the pockets of Mr. Low, Mr. Leissner, Mr. Ng and even the previous prime minister of Malaysia.
Cash looted from 1MDB went to purchase a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, condo buildings, paintings, a mega-yacht, a grand piano made of clear acrylic that was given to a supermodel as a present and a share of the EMI Music Publishing portfolio. A few of the cash even financed the Hollywood film “The Wolf of Wall Road.” A lot of the purchases had been made by Mr. Low.
Mr. Leissner, who’s married to the style designer and mannequin Kimora Lee Simmons, agreed to forfeit as much as $43.7 million as a part of his responsible plea. One in all Goldman’s strongest deal makers in Asia earlier than the scandal erupted in 2016, Mr. Leissner is predicted to seem on the stand for a number of days as soon as he begins testifying. Given his ties to Mr. Ng and Mr. Low, his testimony is seen as essential to the federal government’s case.
However Mr. Leissner is more likely to face a fierce cross-examination from Mr. Ng’s authorized protection group. Attorneys might draw from a file that Goldman had put collectively, presenting Mr. Leissner as a master con artist who had a doctorate from a mail-order diploma mill and had affairs with highly effective ladies in Asia, together with a consumer of the agency’s. The financial institution gathered the fabric when it was negotiating its plea cope with prosecutors and financial institution regulators.
In court docket filings, prosecutors have acknowledged that Mr. Leissner was misleading and steadily misled some at Goldman as as to whether he was coping with Mr. Low after being advised to not. However authorities have faulted Goldman for accepting these denials at “face worth.”
Prosecutors have claimed that Mr. Ng and his household, together with his spouse, bought as much as $35 million in illicit proceeds from the 1MDB bond choices. However Mr. Ng’s protection group intends to current proof that Mr. Ng was not a important participant in placing collectively the bond offers and the cash got here from authentic unrelated transactions, in response to court docket filings.
His attorneys are anticipated to argue that Mr. Ng and his household had been owed cash by Mr. Leissner’s former spouse, who owns a big winery in China. Mr. Ng, they’ll contend, was unaware that the cash they acquired got here from proceeds that had been diverted from the 1MDB bond providing.
It isn’t identified if Mr. Ng will testify on his personal behalf.
Goldman Sachs is predicted to have attorneys monitoring the proceedings. The financial institution’s Malaysian subsidiary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal International Corrupt Practices Act, and the dad or mum firm of the financial institution entered right into a three-year deferred prosecution settlement on the same cost. Quite a lot of Goldman workers, primarily from its compliance division, are anticipated to be referred to as as witnesses.
In reaching a cope with prosecutors and regulators, Goldman additionally took steps to recoup or withhold greater than $100 million in govt compensation, together with to Lloyd Blankfein, the previous chief govt.
The financial institution additionally slashed $10 million from the 2020 pay bundle for David Solomon, who changed Mr. Blankfein as chief govt officer, within the wake of the responsible plea. However Goldman made up for many of that misplaced floor by just lately approving $35 million in compensation for Mr. Solomon for 2021 — roughly $8 million greater than the $27.5 million he was alleged to have gotten in 2021.
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