USA charges ex-Goldman Sachs bankers in Malaysia graft scandal

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In the latest twist, the US Department of Justice has now brought criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low.

Mr. Ng was arrested Thursday in Malaysia at the request of u.s. authorities. Mr.

Tim Leissner, a former partner for Godman in Asia, pleads guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agrees to forfeit $43.7M.

FILE - In this April 23, 2015 file photo, Jho Low, Director of the Jynwel Foundation, poses at the launch of the Global Daily website in Washington, D.C. The Justice Department on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, charged the fugitive Malaysian financier in a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions of dollars from a Malaysian investment fund created to promote economic development projects in that country.

But the documents emphasize that the charges are allegations and that Low and a former banker arrested this week in connection with the case, Ng Chong Hwa, "are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law".

On at least three occasions, Leissner and Ng tried to get the bank to accept Low as a client, according to court documents, but compliance staff blocked the efforts over concerns about the source of Low's money.

Among those named in the indictment as having received kickbacks are Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) and his wife, referred to as "the Madam", in email correspondence among the three.

He has previously denied charges filed in Malaysia, adding that it would be impossible for him to receive a fair trial there. The 93-year-old is now prime minister and reopened the probe into the 1MDB fund. Police have also seized hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash - worth more than $266 million - during raids on apartments linked to Najib's family.

US prosecutors allege that Malaysian Low Taek Jho, usually known as Jho Low, was a central figure who orchestrated the ransacking of 1MDB.

Low allegedly played a central role in plundering 1MDB.

A year earlier, Jho Low was involved in an even bigger payment. Between 2009 and 2014, top executives and associates of Najib looted $4.5 billion from the fund, laundering it through the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and other countries, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

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The government alleges that the conspirators cooked up three schemes to collect funds from 1MBD and diverted portions for their own use.

Low's statement said that he held no formal position at 1MDB and was never employed by Goldman Sachs or the governments of Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.

The funds were intended "for the benefit of the Malaysian people" but more than $2.7 billion went to kickbacks and bribes, according to the charges.

The DOJ started investigating due to claims that huge sums of stolen Malaysian public money were laundered through the U.S. financial system.

Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, is founder of Red Granite Pictures, the film's producer.

Ng was also charged with conspiring to violate the internal controls at Goldman Sachs, which underwrote more than US$6 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB.

Following the close of Project Maximus, $790 million (3.3 billion ringgit) was transferred to accounts controlled by Low, Leissner and others, including Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.

Both men were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Malaysian officials did not confirm the USA report that Ng had been arrested.

"Mr Low maintains his innocence", read the statement. Earlier this week, the Malaysian government began a month-long auction to sell his $250 million yacht Equanimity to recoup some of the losses tied to 1MDB.