Roger Ng, a former banker for Goldman Sachs, was found guilty of helping steal billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund. On Thursday, he was sentenced to ten years in jail for his role in the theft of those funds.
A jury in a federal court in Brooklyn in April of last year found Ng, who had previously worked for Goldman Sachs as the head of investment banking in Malaysia, guilty of assisting his former boss Tim Leissner in stealing money from a fund, laundering the proceeds, and bribing government officials in order to secure business.
The allegations come from the sale of around $6.5 billion in bonds that Goldman Sachs assisted 1MDB, a company that was established in Malaysia to finance various development projects, in the years 2012 and 2013.
In one of the most serious scandals in the annals of Wall Street’s long and illustrious history, U.S. prosecutors have stated that politicians, bankers, and their allies stole $4.5 billion of that total figure.
According to the Department of Justice, the funds were utilized to purchase luxury real estate, jewelry, and artwork, in addition to financing the production of the Hollywood blockbuster “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie, who handed down the sentence, stated that Ng and his co-defendants “essentially stole money” that was intended for infrastructural and economic development projects that would benefit the people of Malaysia.
“There is a critical need to deter crimes of pure greed like this one.”
The 1MDB crisis also shook up the political landscape in Malaysia. After being found guilty by a Malaysian court of taking $10 million from a defunct 1MDB company, former Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently serving a prison sentence that carries a maximum term of 12 years. Najib has always maintained that he did nothing illegal.
In a filing that was submitted the week prior, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn urged a judge to sentence Ng to 15 years in prison. They referred to Ng as a “deeply corrupt banker” and argued that a harsh sentence was required to deter other financial professionals from bribing officials to win business.
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“Foreign corruption undermines the public’s confidence in international markets and institutions,” prosecutors wrote. “It destroys people’s faith in their leaders and it is deeply unfair to everybody else who plays by the rules.”
On February 25, Ng submitted his own sentencing request, in which he requested that he serve no time in prison and be let to go back to Malaysia. In 2018, he gave up his right to challenge his extradition to the United States and was released from prison after serving a sentence of six months in Malaysia.
Ng entered a not guilty plea and contended that the $35 million in alleged kickback payments he received was actually a return on an investment that his wife had made. He was accused of accepting these payments.
Leissner had previously served as the head of Goldman’s Southeast Asia division. As part of the terms of the cooperation agreement, he entered a guilty plea and testified against Ng. He has not been given a sentence as of yet.
Alongside Ng in 2018, an indictment was brought against Jho Low, a Malaysian banker who is accused of being the scheme’s mastermind. Low, however, has not been located. Officials from Malaysia have claimed that Low is currently located in China, which the Chinese government has denied.
Goldman Sachs reached an agreement in October 2020 to pay $2.9 billion, and its Malaysian subsidiary pled guilty to a charge of wrongdoing.
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