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'A Victory For M'sians' — Ex-Goldman Banker Roger Ng Convicted In The US For 1MDB Crimes

In a video statement, US Attorney Breon Peace said the bribery and money laundering scheme related to the 1MDB fund was massive in its scale and that Roger Ng and his co-conspirators embezzled billions of dollars.

Cover image via Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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Goldman Sachs' former investment boss for Malaysia, 49-year-old Roger Ng Chong Hwa, has been found guilty by a US jury of helping to steal billions of dollars from Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB

Ng, a Malaysian, was convicted of all three charges against him on Friday, 8 April.

The jury convicted the 49-year-old of two counts of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) through bribery and circumvention of Goldman Sachs' internal accounting controls, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a Reuters report.

He is the first, and probably the only, person to face trial in the US for his role in the scheme. In 2020, Goldman Sachs paid a nearly USD3 billion fine and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty.

Prosecutors said Ng helped his former boss Tim Leissner embezzle money from the fund, launder the proceeds, and bribe officials to win business for Goldman. Ng had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"A fall guy"

According to Ng's lawyer Marc Agnifilo, he was a "fall guy" and Leissner falsely implicated Ng in the hopes of receiving a lenient sentence after pleading guilty to his role in the 1MDB scandal in 2018.

However, according to prosecutors, Ng was central to the scheme, introducing Leissner to Chinese-Malaysian financier Jho Low, the alleged mastermind and a confidant of former prime minister Najib Razak.

They told the court that Ng, who worked for Goldman from 2005 to May 2014, received USD35 million in kickbacks for his role. Ng's team claimed it was part of a legitimate business deal involving his wife, Hwee Bin Lim, who testified for the defence that the business venture was, in fact, legitimate.

Meanwhile, Ng, wearing a black suit jacket and black tie, showed little emotion as the verdict was readout. He glanced back and forth between the jury and the desk he was seated at.

US district judge Margo Brodie, who is overseeing the case, ordered that Ng be subject to a curfew pending sentencing. It is expected that Ng will be sentenced to decades in prison, CNBC reported.

Roger Ng exits the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse after being found guilty on 8 April.

Image via Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Ng may appeal

However, it depends on the outcome of his post-trial motions and his sentence, Agnifilo said, adding that Ng had a better chance of a fair trial in the US than in Malaysia.

According to Agnifilo, he and Ng's lawyers in Malaysia are coordinating their efforts on his next legal steps.

I have faith in our system because I’m from here.
Marc Agnifilo

Meanwhile, Breon Peace, the US Attorney for the eastern district of New York, said the verdict against the former Goldman Sachs banker is a victory for not only the rule of law but also for the people of Malaysia

In a video statement, Peace said the bribery and money laundering scheme related to the 1MDB fund was massive in its scale and that Ng and his co-conspirators embezzled billions of dollars from the fund.

"It was brazen in its execution — Ng obtained lucrative business for his employer by bribing a dozen government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. And it was obscene in its greed," he said.

"Today's verdict is a victory for not only the rule of law but also for the people of Malaysia," Peace said, adding, "the defendant and his cronies saw 1MDB not as an entity to do good for the people of Malaysia but as a piggy bank to enrich themselves with piles of money siphoned from the fund."

Ng is also facing charges in Malaysia

The local authorities, however, will await the process of Ng's sentencing and appeal in the US court before deciding the next course of action, according to Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun.

"We (Malaysia) will wait for the process of sentencing after which Roger [Ng] has the right to appeal against conviction and sentence," The Edge quoted Idrus as saying briefly yesterday.

Ng is facing four counts of violating the Capital Market Services Act 2007 in Malaysia.

He is charged under Section 370(c) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007, which carries a punishment of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of at least RM1 million, upon conviction.

Ng and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo as seen on 6 May 2019.

Image via Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Ng's trial in the US also brought back focus on Najib and Rosmah:

In December last year, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the Kuala Lumpur High Court's verdict against Najib that he is guilty of all charges in SRC International case, a former subsidiary of 1MDB:

The former prime minister, however, was granted a stay of execution:

The Pekan member of parliament has used his freedom to rally support and said that he will not rule out the possibility of contesting in the next general election despite being convicted of corruption: