Roger Ng, the former Goldman Sachs banker convicted in connection with the multibillion-dollar embezzlement scheme at 1MDB, is set to be sentenced on Thursday in a New York court, the latest chapter in one of the biggest financial scandals in recent history.
Last year, a US jury in Brooklyn found Ng, a 50-year-old Malaysian citizen, guilty on all three counts in his case: conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws, conspiring to launder money and conspiring to skirt Goldman’s internal accounting controls. He faces up to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors have requested a minimum sentence of 15 years.
The sentencing will conclude one of the most high-profile cases linked to the Malaysian state investment fund, from which the US Department of Justice alleges $4.5bn was misappropriated and funnelled across the globe to buy luxury real estate, expensive jewellery and finance The Wolf of Wall Street, the Oscar-nominated film on financial malfeasance, among other things.
Ng, who did not testify during his trial, had pleaded not guilty and was extradited to the US in 2019 after being arrested in Malaysia a year earlier. He is involved in a separate case related to 1MDB in the south-east Asian country.
The US government accused Ng of being a crucial link to 1MDB and Jho Low, the Malaysian financier accused of masterminding the embezzlement scheme, which extended from Malaysia to Switzerland and the US. Low remains at large and maintains his innocence.
Prosecutors also alleged Ng misappropriated $35mn in stolen 1MDB funds, a payment his lawyer said was linked to an unrelated investment involving Ng’s wife.
As Goldman’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia and later as a member of the bank’s securities division in Asia, Ng participated in arranging three 1MDB bond deals in 2012 and 2013. The transactions generated more than $600mn in fees and raised approximately $6.5bn, a chunk of which was used to pay bribes to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, according to US authorities.
Goldman, which reached a settlement of up to $3.9bn with Malaysia and paid a record $2.9bn in a global settlement in 2020, has said it was lied to by “certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB”.
The conclusion of Ng’s US case paves the way for the sentencing of Tim Leissner, an ex-Goldman partner who pleaded guilty to charges of violating foreign bribery laws in connection with 1MDB and conspiring to launder money.
Leissner, who was Ng’s former boss, signed a co-operation agreement with the US in the hope he would receive a lighter sentence and became the government’s star witness in Ng’s trial. He is set to be sentenced on September 6 and has been ordered to forfeit $43.7mn.
During the proceedings, which lasted nearly two months, Ng’s lawyer argued there was no evidence tying his client to the 1MDB scandal save for Leissner’s testimony, which he said was not truthful. He called Leissner a “one of a kind” liar.
In a sentencing memorandum, Ng’s lawyer asked he not serve more time in prison, adding that he had been “taken” from his family and was still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being “stripped of his dignity in a Malaysian prison”.