Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

U.S. justice department charges former Goldman bankers in 1MDB scandal

Jho Low contacted Mahathir's adviser last week to seek immunity: Report Jhlo Low, ex-Goldman bankers accused of laundering billions in stolen funds
| 02 November, 2018, 15:01

Two former Goldman Sachs bankers conspired to bribe Malaysian government officials and launder billions of dollars stolen from 1MDB, the country's sovereign wealth fund, American prosecutors alleged yesterday.

Ng and Leissner's efforts in the scheme dated to 2009, when they began cultivating a relationship with Low, who allegedly "worked as an intermediary in relation to 1MDB and other foreign government officials" but did not hold a formal position at 1MDB and was never employed by the government. A friend of Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, Low had no official role at 1MDB but had considerable influence over its dealings and was often in contact with Najib, according to the Justice Department.

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.

US prosecutors had painted Low as a bon vivant and a central figure who set up shell companies and arranged the transfers of tens of millions of dollars to pay Malaysian government officials, while Singapore investigators have called him a "key person of interest".

Ng was arrested yesterday in Malaysia by his officers to assist the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in its investigations, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh told The Star.

These are the first criminal charges brought in the case, and the indictment accuses the men of laundering dirty money through the USA 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.

The alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund has become the focus of an worldwide scandal reaching from Malaysia to the United States to Hong Kong. He was ordered to forfeit $43.7 million as part of his guilty plea. The Associated Press quotes a spokesman for Low as saying, "Mr". The Wall Street Journal reports that Low was last seen in China but remains at large. It says initially a $1 billion investment was diverted and in subsequent phases money was siphoned from sales of 1MDB bonds.


The Malaysian government is now seeking restitution from Goldman. A lawyer for Leissner was unavailable for comment when NPR phoned.

Mr Daim said that on one occasion, he demanded that Low return to Malaysia and provide names involved in the 1MDB corruption scandal.

Najib in 2015 sacked his attorney general and a deputy prime minister for demanding answers about 1MDB.

In June, anti-corruption investigators questioned Najib's wife about alleged theft and money-laundering.

Najib has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has consistently denied wrongdoing. The 93-year-old is now prime minister and reopened the probe into the 1MDB fund. Police have also seized hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash - worth more than $266 million - during raids on apartments linked to Najib's family.

Since the election, Malaysian authorities have brought 38 charges against Najib.

Mustian reported from NY.

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