A U.S. prosecutor urged jurors to convict a former senior Goldman Sachs banker for helping loot billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund. This is while the defense accused the government’s star witness of lying. In her closing argument in Brooklyn federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alixandra Smith said that the defendant Roger Ng received more than $35 million in kickbacks from the “brazen” bribery and money laundering scheme.
Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo countered that his client was falsely implicated by his former boss Tim Leissner, the star witness. Agnifilo stated that he never stopped lying ever, and he didn’t stop lying in this courtroom. Closing arguments are expected to end, followed by the judge instructing jurors on the law and the start of deliberations. The nearly two-month trial stemmed from one of the biggest financial scandals in history.
Prosecutors have said Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion through three bond sales. But that $4.5 billion was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks. Goldman in 2020 paid a fine of nearly $3 billion and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty. Ng, 49, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating an anti-corruption law. It will likely be the only person tried in the United States over 1MDB. Prosecutors said Ng helped Leissner embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars, launder the proceeds and bribe officials to win business for Goldman.
Smith told jurors that the harm to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable and it is deeply unfair to everyone else who plays by the rules. Leissner, 52, pleaded guilty in 2018 to similar charges as Ng. Agnifilo focused his closing argument on Leissner’s credibility.
Agnifilo said his client played no further role, while the defense acknowledged that Ng introduced Leissner to Low. And, Leissner lied to get a lighter sentence. Roger is basically the fall guy for this whole thing. Smith acknowledged that Leissner was seeking leniency by testifying. Smith told, that what he told about the crimes he committed with the defendant and others is backed up by and consistent with other evidence. “
Ng has acknowledged receiving $35 million from Leissner. Leissner said that money represented kickbacks from 1MDB, and that he agreed with Ng to tell banks processing the transfers a cover story. Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified for the defense that she invested $6 million in the mid-2000s in a Chinese company. She said the $35 million was her return on that investment. Low was indicted in 2018 alongside Ng. Malaysian authorities say Low is in China, which Beijing denies.