Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng will spend the next 10 years in prison for a money laundering and bribery scheme in which he helped take billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, an entity created to pursue investment and development for the economic benefit of the Malaysian people.
Ng was convicted in April 2022, following a nine-week trial, of conspiring to launder money, conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi with some $1.6 billion, and conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing Goldman’s internal accounting controls.
According to the Department of Justice, Ng, Goldman’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia, and others conspired to launder billions of dollars fraudulently diverted from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014. Alongside Tim Leissner, Goldman’s former Southeast Asia Chairman, and Malaysian socialite Jho Low, Ng conspired to bribe government officials to obtain and retain lucrative business for Goldman.
“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace in a prepared statement.
“Today’s sentence serves as a just punishment for the defendant’s crimes and a warning that there is a significant price to pay for corporate corruption,” Peace said.
Ng, Leissner, and Jho also conspired to launder the proceeds of their crimes by funding major Hollywood films, including “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and making lavish purchases, including a $51 million Jean-Michael Basquiat painting, a $23 million diamond necklace, millions of dollars in Hermes handbags, and luxury Manhattan real estate.
The investment bank received around $600 million in fees and revenues through its work for 1MDB, and Ng received upwards of $35 million for his part in the bribery and money laundering scheme.
All told, Ng and the other co-conspirators misappropriated more than $2.7 billion from 1MDB, according to the DOJ.
Ng told Judge Margo Brodie Thursday that he wanted to go back to Malaysia to be with his young daughter and aging mother.
Reuters reported that Brodie said Ng’s separation from his daughter was “not a unique circumstance.”
Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo told Reuters that he plans to appeal the sentence. Ng, who had pleaded not guilty, said that the $35 million kickback he was accused of receiving was actually a return on an investment made by his wife.
In October 2020, Goldman and its Malaysian subsidiary admitted to conspiring to violate the FCPA in connection with the bribery of officials for the scheme. The bank agreed to pay $2.9 billion to criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and elsewhere; and its Malaysian unit pleaded guilty to a corruption charge.
Ng is thus far the only person sentenced in relation to the 1MDB scandal. Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018 to the same charges Ng faced and has been ordered to give up $43 million and more than $200 million in stock. He testified against Ng and is awaiting sentencing.
Low remains at large.