A former Goldman Sachs banker was indicted on Friday on charges of bribery and money laundering stemming from one of the biggest global corruption cases in history: the looting of billions of dollars for a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
A federal jury found former banker, Roger Ng, guilty after a nearly two-month trial that was adjourned for days because federal prosecutors were slow to deliver potentially important documents to the defendant, and the government’s key cooperating witness admitted he was a frequent liar in every of business and personal affairs.
After more than two days of deliberation, the jury found Mr. Ng guilty on all three counts. He could face up to 30 years in prison.
The trial, which began in mid-February in federal court in Brooklyn, is likely to be the only criminal trial in the United States to arise from the scandal involving a Malaysian fund known as 1MDB. More than $4 billion in stolen money funded the lavish lifestyles of powerful Malaysians and others, bought paintings by Van Gogh and Monet, paid for luxury properties from London to Beverly Hills, and helped fund the Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street.
Jhu Lo, a high-spending Malaysian businessman and scheme architect, has been charged with Mr. Ng but is a fugitive and is believed to be living in China. Tim Lesnar, a former partner at Goldman and a government witness during the trial, is due to be sentenced this summer; He pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering charges in 2018.
Mr. Low received nearly $1 billion in transferred funds from a series of bond offerings that Goldman Sachs arranged for 1MDB. Mr. Lesnar took more than $60 million in bribes and prosecutors said Mr. Ng had received $35 million in illegal proceeds.
Federal prosecutors said others – including the former Malaysian prime minister and officials in Abu Dhabi – took hundreds of millions in kickbacks for agreeing to have Goldman as the lead guarantor of the bond deals.
Mr. Lesnar, who was Goldman’s rising star in Asia, stood on the podium for 10 days, including six days of thorough questioning. While on the catwalk, Mr. Lesnar admitted to being a prolific liar: he was forced to confess initially to lying to federal agents, and to fellow Goldmans, girlfriends and wives, including Kimura Lee Simmons, a model and fashion designer. (The couple have two separate children.)
Mr. Ng’s lawyer told the jury during his closing argument that Mr. Lesnar could not be trusted to tell the truth about anything, including his involvement in the bribery and bribery scheme. But prosecutors said Mr Lesnar was telling the truth about the crimes Mr Ng was accused of, including paying $35 million that authorities said was an illegal kickback.
Mr. Ng’s wife, Hui Ben Lim, testified for $35 million that she and her husband earned from the $6 million investment returns she made many years ago with Mr. Lesnar’s second wife, Judy Chan.
Mr. Ng’s trial was an unusual example of a manager testifying against his subordinate. In high-profile corporate crime cases, key collaborating witnesses are often used to build cases against senior corporate executives. But in Mr. Lesnar’s case, federal prosecutors used his cooperation not only to prove the charges against Mr. Ng but to establish a criminal case against his former employer.
Mr. Lesnar’s cooperation led to Goldman Sachs’ Malaysia subsidiary pleading guilty to one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – the first case of Goldman appearing before a US judge and admitting to a crime.
The bank agreed to pay $2.3 billion in fines to federal authorities and billions more to authorities in other countries, including Malaysia. The same bank also entered into a three-year deferred litigation agreement with the US authorities.