Ex-Goldman banker says he warned bosses about Jho Low, 1MDB

NEW YORK (Bloomberg): Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng says he “warned” the bank not to do business with Jho Low while asking to dismiss the foreign bribery case against him (Ng).

Ng, who says he told Goldman the Malaysian financier “could not be trusted,” will be tried next year on charges of bribery and money laundering.

He has been accused of assisting former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and others in embezzling at least $ 2.7 billion (RM11.04 billion) from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. Low is accused of masterminding the scheme.

In a 126-page file, Ng says the United States has no cases to prosecute him because the alleged crimes were committed in Malaysia.

He also argues that his former boss, Tim Leissner, an ex-Goldman banker who has agreed to plead guilt and testify against him, is really the central figure in the plan because he eventually persuaded the bank to do business with Low.

Ng’s attorney Marc Agnifilo says in the filing that his client had “specifically warned” his superiors at Goldman to “be careful when dealing with Low” as early as March 2010.

“Ng’s warnings were shared with the highest levels of the company’s compliance and legal departments. The company did not listen to him.”

Goldman spokeswoman Maeve DuVally, Leissner attorney Henry Mazurek and John Marzulli, a spokesman for acting US attorney Seth DuCharme in Brooklyn, New York, whose office is pursuing the case, declined to comment on the filing.

Low, who has denied wrongdoing, is considered a fugitive and has been charged in absentia with money laundering and other crimes in Malaysia and the United States.

Goldman has agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines to the Justice Department and other US authorities for his role in the 1MDB scandal, the largest foreign bribery case in the history of US enforcement.

Ng admitted that he first introduced Low to the bank, but says it was “in early 2009, when no one had reason to know Low was running a fraud plan.”

By 2012, he says, Leissner had become Low’s primary Goldman liaison and the “more powerful” and “rain-making partner.”

“It was Leissner, and Leissner alone, who then lied for Low, protected Low and eventually became a full-fledged criminal in Low’s service,” he said.

Leissner, who was one of Goldman’s top bankers in Asia, admitted to conspiring to launder money and violate US anti-bribery laws when he participated in a bribe scheme from 2009 to 2014 to bring in 1MDB’s business. He will testify against Ng at the trial.

In the filing, Agnifilo also attacked a “tacit” provision he said the United States had put in place as part of its multi-billion dollar deferred prosecution deal with Goldman.

The requirement means that any Goldman official Ng who warned about Low will now be “afraid” to tell the truth, afraid it would invalidate the bank’s deal with the United States, he said.

He said the provision, “enforced in the government’s sole discretion, ensures that no Goldman employee will contradict the government’s account of Goldman’s misconduct – including Ng’s alleged misconduct for which he is accused.”

Agnifilo argued that “this creates a constitutional issue in this case” by limiting Ng’s use of witnesses in his defense.

Ng, which is free of a US $ 20mil (RM81.81mil) bond, is scheduled to be on trial in March 2021. Bloomberg

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