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Jury convicts former Goldman Sachs banker on FCPA conspiracy charges

Roger Ng, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs, was convicted by a New York jury Friday on three counts including conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, conspiring to circumvent internal accounting controls in violation of the FCPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Ng, a Malaysian citizen, was charged in 2018 as part of the looting of Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad in an unsealed three-count indictment. He was arrested in November 2018 in Malaysia and extradited to the United States in May 2019.

After nearly two months on trial, the jury deliberated four days before convicting Ng.

In October 2020, Goldman Sachs and a Malaysian subsidiary paid $3.3 billion in penalties to the DOJ and SEC to resolve FCPA charges related to 1MDB in the largest FCPA settlement to date.

Goldman Sachs units acted as arrangers or purchasers of $6.5 billion of debt securities of 1MDB. The DOJ said Goldman received $600 million in fees and revenue related to the debt offerings.

In July 2020, a Malaysian court convicted former Prime Minister Najib Razak on seven counts for looting 1MDB, including money laundering, abuse of power, and criminal breach of trust.

The Malaysian High Court found Najib guilty of transferring about $10 million from a 1MDB affiliate called SRC International into his personal bank accounts. The judge imposed a 12-year prison sentence on Najib but suspended it during any appeals.

In November 2018, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs in Southeast Asia, Tim Leissner, who testified as a government witness against Ng, pleaded guilty in the United States to two counts of conspiring to launder money and violate the FCPA for his role in the 1MDB scandal. He resigned from Goldman Sachs in February 2016.

Leissner forfeited nearly $44 million as part of his plea. He’s cooperating with the DOJ and hasn’t been sentenced yet.

In July 2018, the Malaysian government issued a warrant for the arrest of alleged 1MDB mastermind Low Taek Jho. Low has denied breaking any laws and said he had an informal consulting role at 1MDB.

In the U.S., the DOJ indicted Low in October 2018 for conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery and internal controls provisions, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The criminal indictment said Goldman’s system of internal accounting controls could be easily circumvented and that the firm’s business culture in Southeast Asia was “highly focused on consummating deals, at times prioritizing this goal ahead of the proper operation of its compliance functions.”

The DOJ reached a $700 million civil forfeiture agreement in 2019 for assets Low allegedly acquired with money stolen from 1MDB.

Low hasn’t appeared in U.S. court to answer the criminal charges. He is currently a fugitive and his whereabouts are unknown.

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