By SDCN Editor

A former managing director of The Goldman Sachs Group Incorporated was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a multibillion-dollar bribery and money laundering scheme involving Malaysia’s state-owned investment and development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

According to court documents, between approximately 2009 and 2014, Ng Chong Hwa, aka Roger Ng, of Malaysia, and his co-conspirators laundered billions of dollars misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including funds raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions it executed with Goldman Sachs. 

As part of the scheme, Ng and his co-conspirators, including Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia Chairman and participating managing director of Goldman Sachs, conspired to and did pay more than $1 billion in bribes to 12 government officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to obtain and retain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs, including the 2012 and 2013 bond deals. They also conspired to and did launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the U.S. financial system, including funding major Hollywood films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and purchasing, among other things, a $51 million Jean-Michel Basquiat painting from New York-based Christie’s auction house, a $23 million diamond necklace from a New York jeweler, millions of dollars in Hermès handbags from a dealer based on Long Island, and luxury real estate in Manhattan.

“The Justice Department remains firmly committed to holding accountable individuals who engage in corruption, undermine the rule of law, and abuse our financial system to launder their illicit funds. This sentence sends a strong message to criminals around the world: if you violate our laws, we will bring you to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. 

“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also undermined the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses, and other institutions on a global scale,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. 

Ng and his co-conspirators, including Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, a wealthy Malaysian socialite, used Low’s close relationships with high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to obtain and retain business for Goldman Sachs through the promise and payment of more than a billion dollars in bribes. In the course of executing the scheme, Ng, with others at Goldman Sachs, conspired to and did circumvent the investment bank’s internal accounting controls. Through its work for Berhad during that time, Goldman Sachs received approximately $600 million in fees and revenue, while Ng received $35 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme. In total, Ng and his co-conspirators misappropriated more than $2.7 billion from Berhad.

In August 2018, Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA. Leissner agreed to forfeit $43 million and shares of stock valued at more than $200 million and is awaiting sentencing. Low was indicted in November 2018 and remains a fugitive.

In October 2020, Goldman Sachs and Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., its Malaysian subsidiary, admitted to conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA in connection with the scheme. Goldman Sachs entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. GS Malaysia pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Goldman Sachs paid more than $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and elsewhere.

In April 2022, Ng was found guilty by a jury of conspiring to violate the FCPA and conspiring to launder billions of dollars.

The FBI’s International Corruption Unit and IRS-CI investigated the case.