Malaysian scandal spreads to US

02 November, 2018, 15:00 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Jho Low contacted Mahathir's adviser last week to seek immunity: Report

Former Goldman Sachs banker Ng Chong Hwa, also known as Roger Ng, will be extradited to the United States to face charges in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Both men were charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB, and conspiring to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.

Low, Ng, Leissner, and others also conspired to bribe government officials in Malaysia, including at 1MDB - a state-owned and controlled fund meant to fund economic development projects in the country - and Abu Dhabi to keep lucrative deals to themselves, federal prosecutors said.

The criminal charges are the first to be filed in the USA over one of the biggest financial scandals. Low, who previously said he did consulting work for 1MDB, is portrayed by some global investigators as the mastermind behind some of the schemes involving missing funds. The banker, Andrea Vella, was put on leave in October, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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The 1MDB scandal has roiled politics in Malaysia, leading to criminal charges against former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

A friend of Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, Low had no official role at 1MDB but had considerable influence over its dealings and was often in contact with Najib, according to the Justice Department, U.S. authorities have said.

The money was supposed to support development projects, but prosecutors say the three men "conspired to launder" more than $2.7bn through the United States financial system, and used this money to pay bribes and "for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives".

His deputy, Ng, was arrested in Malaysia as federal prosecutors in the USA laid out conspiracy allegations related to Goldman Sachs's lucrative fundraising for Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB.

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

Some of those allegations were described in civil forfeiture complaints filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles a year ago. Working with the FBI, Indonesian authorities seized Low's $250 million luxury yacht Equanimity off Bali in February and Malaysia's government is now auctioning it.

Goldman, the $86 billion Wall Street investment bank, underwrote $6 billion of bonds issued by 1MDB during the time of the alleged fraud, earning about $600 million in fees, the US Department of Justice said yesterday. The government tracked down his latest location several days ago, and is seeking cooperation from a foreign country to bring him back to Malaysia to face charges related to 1MDB, he said.

An attorney for Najib, Shafee Abdullah, dismissed the latest charges as "foolish". When the banks questioned large money transfers, the conspirators used fake business documents to address their concerns, the department says.

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Goldman did not immediately have a comment Thursday. A representative for Mr. It was not known who was representing Mr. Ng.

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