Monday, May 16, 2022

Ex-Goldman banker wasn’t at meetings with key 1MDB players, dinner with Najib, US court hears

Roger Ng's defence team says he was not included in multiple meetings and events, including with fugitive businessman Jho Low.

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The defence for former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng told his ongoing trial in the US that he had not been present at a number of meetings and events linked to the 1MDB scandal including a 2013 dinner with former prime minister Najib Razak.

While Tim Leissner, Ng’s former supervisor turned star witness against him, had met multiple times with Low and other key players in the 1MDB affair, his lawyers said that Ng himself had not always been included.

According to Bloomberg, they presented, among others, a text message Leissner had sent to another Goldman banker in 2012 when he, Ng and Low had been in Hong Kong after the closure of one of the 1MDB bond transactions.

“Please don’t tell Roger about our meeting with the friend,” Leissner was quoted as saying in the text sent shortly before an offshore account in the name of his wife transferred a bribe of US$2 million to one of Najib’s advisers, the report said citing records.

Leissner previously testified that he and Ng had concocted a scheme involving their wives to conceal kickbacks they received for helping to loot 1MDB.

Ng’s lawyer however said that the men’s wives had had a legitimate business together.

Ng is charged with receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks for helping embezzle funds from 1MDB. He has claimed trial to conspiring to launder money and to violate an anti-bribery law.

The charges stem from one of the biggest financial scandals in history, in which US prosecutors say US$4.5 billion of the US$6.5 billion Goldman raised for 1MDB was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks.

Leissner claimed he collected more than US$60 million in kickbacks from Low, also known as Jho Low, and that he paid Ng more than US$$35.1 million, Bloomberg said.

The report also cited the testimony of Katelyn Giesler, an assistant at the law firm of defence lawyer Teny Geragos, who said that Low and Leissner had flown to Las Vegas for a birthday bash hosted by the businessman.

According to Giesler, Ng was not on the list of Malaysian guests for the event, neither was he present at an occasion in July 2013 when Low presented Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor with a 22-carat pink diamond necklace said to have been bought with 1MDB money.

When Leissner and Najib had dinner in San Tropez several days later, she said, Ng was not present either.

Reuters reported last month that Ng’s defence is expected to argue that he had no role in the scheme perpetrated by Low and Leissner, and that he even warned Goldman management not to trust Low.

Ng’s defence lawyer Marc Agnifilo has said Leissner falsely implicated Ng in the scheme in an effort to minimise his punishment.

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