Ex-Goldman Banker Wasn’t Even at Key 1MDB Meetings, Witness Says

by BLOOMBERG

GOLDMAN Sachs Group Inc. banker Roger Ng (picture) wasn’t always included in meetings held by key players in the multibillion-dollar looting of 1MDB, according to testimony presented by his defense team.

Ng, the only Goldman banker to go to trial in the 1MDB scandal, is accused of plotting with his former boss Tim Leissner and Malaysian financier Jho Low to pull off a fraud in which billions of dollars were siphoned from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Leissner, who pleaded guilty and testified against Ng, said he collected more than $60 million in kickbacks from Low and paid Ng more than $35.1 million.

But as Ng’s lawyers began presenting his defense Thursday, they tried to show that Leissner met multiple times with Low and others involved in the 1MDB fraud when Ng wasn’t present.

“Please don’t tell Roger about our meeting with the friend,” Leissner wrote in a Blackberry message to another Goldman banker in 2012 at a time when Leissner, Low and Ng were all in Hong Kong after one of the 1MDB bond transactions closed.

Shortly afterward, an offshore account in the name of Leissner’s wife’s paid a $2 million bribe to an adviser of then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, records show.

The next day, Low and Leissner each flew to Las Vegas for a gala birthday bash, according to Katelyn Giesler, an assistant at the law firm of defense lawyer Teny Geragos. While Leissner was listed among Malaysian guests for Low’s event, Ng’s name wasn’t, Giesler said.

Nor was Ng aboard a yacht on the Mediterranean chartered by Low in July 2013 when the financier presented the wife of then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak with a 22-carat pink diamond necklace purchased with 1MDB funds, Giesler testified. Ng also didn’t join Leissner and Najib for dinner in San Tropez a few days later, she said, noting that records show he wasn’t even in Europe at the time.

Prosecutors rested their case earlier Thursday after their final witness, an FBI agent, walked the jury through scores of emails and other records the government says show Ng conspired with Low.

Trial testimony resumes Monday.

The case is U.S. v. Low Taek Jho, 18-cr-538, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).