US authorities have charged a fugitive Malaysian financier and two former Goldman Sachs bankers in a money laundering and bribery scheme that allegedly pilfered billions from Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB.
Also unsealed yesterday in federal court in the Eastern District of NY was the guilty plea of Tim Leissner, the former South-east Asia Chairman and participating managing director of the Financial Institution, to a two-count criminal information charging Leissner with conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by both paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing the internal accounting controls of the Financial Institution while he was employed by it.
Jho Low: Malaysian financier arrested in the US faces charges of laundering billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB and conspiring to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.
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.
Goldman Sachs has said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and that it had no knowledge of how the money from the fund was being used. The banker, Andrea Vella, was put on leave in October, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department announced charges Thursday against a fugitive Malaysian financier and two former Goldman Sachs bankers accused in a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions of dollars from a...
USA 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". Low misappropriated billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund.
United States prosecutors previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds.
The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib. The Malaysian government is seeking restitution from Goldman, according to the country's new Finance Minister.
Prosecutors alleged bribes and kickbacks were paid in connection with Goldman's bond offerings on 1MDB's behalf, which generated some US$600 million in fees for the bank.
The DOJ said Ng and Leissner repeatedly circumvented Goldman's oversight tools for countering fraud, adding that the "business culture" at the firm, "particularly in Southeast Asia, was highly focused on consummating deals".
The BBC has contacted Goldman Sachs for comment. Low did not have an immediate comment.
Mr Ng was a managing director at Goldman until his departure in May 2014. It was not clear if Ng had a lawyer. Such payments were "known to Ng, Leissner and other employees" of the bank, according to prosecutors.