USA charges financier, former Goldman bankers for 1MDB
03 November, 2018, 04:15 | Author: Rachel Logan
Also charged was a former Goldman Sachs banker, Tim Leissner, who pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and to conspiring to violate foreign bribery laws.
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. He was arrested in Malaysia on Thursday.
"Mr. Low simply asks that the public keep an open mind regarding this case until all of the evidence comes to light, which he believes will vindicate him", Haggerty said. Goldman declined to comment on Vella's behalf, and a call to Vella wasn't immediately returned. It is unclear if Mr Ng has a lawyer.
The sovereign wealth fund was set up in 2009 to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia.
An estimated US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, the US Justice Department has alleged. It says initially a $1 billion investment was diverted and in subsequent phases money was siphoned from sales of 1MDB bonds. As part of the deal, Leissner will forfeit $43.7 million.
While the Justice Department has been investigating the 1MDB scandal for some time and has pursued civil lawsuits, these are the first criminal charges the department has brought against individuals related to the 1MDB scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal, which brought global attention to the scandal itself in 2015.
"They also allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the United States financial system by purchasing, among other things, luxury residential real estate in New York City and elsewhere, and artwork from a New York-based auction house, and by funding major Hollywood films".
Goldman said in an emailed statement that it "continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating this matter". The company, which earned $600m in fees stemming from its work with 1MDB, has in the past denied wrongdoing and said it was co-operating with the investigation.
The Justice Department is claiming Low used 1MDB money to purchase high end real estate in the US, fund Hollywood films and bribe foreign officials. 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.
About $4bn disappeared from the fund and the claims of corruption led to Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, being charged with corruption, charges he has denied. Before facing criminal charges, Low became well known in the New York City and Los Angeles club scenes. Najib and his wife have separately been charged with multiple counts of corruption and money laundering.
The scandal has already had major political ramifications in Malaysia, where Najib in 2015 sacked his attorney general and a deputy prime minister for demanding answers about 1MDB.
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