United States officials have unveiled criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers over the scandal-plagued Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, raising fresh questions about corporate culture at the prestigious investment bank.
Roger Ng, an ex-Goldman banker, and Malaysian financier known as Jho Low, who allegedly engineered the fraud, are indicted for conspiring to launder billions of dollars in illegal proceeds and to pay hundreds of millions in bribes.
In earlier statements, Low said he would not "submit to any jurisdiction" where he could not get a fair trial, especially Malaysia. USA officials say he remains at large. "Low held no formal position at 1MDB, nor was he ever employed by Goldman Sachs, or the Governments of Malaysia or Abu Dhabi", Low's spokesman said.
"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", the statement said. A lawyer for Ng did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Wall Street bank said in a securities filing on Friday that it may also face penalties from dealings with 1MDB and is cooperating with various government probes. Red Granite was run by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister.
In its civil suits, the department said that more than $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB by high-level officials at the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2015. He denies any wrongdoing.
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The indictments unsealed Thursday against him, ex-bankers Tim Leissner and Ng Chong Hwa, were the first United States criminal charges over the huge fraud, which has spawned investigations around the world. Three weeks earlier, the necklace was purchased for about $27.3 million (114 million ringgit) from a shell company controlled by Low and others, the USA government alleges. The firm says it "continues to co-operate with all authorities investigating this matter". He denies any wrongdoing.
Beginning in May 2012 and running through 2013, investigators allege that the trio and unnamed conspirators pushed through a pair of bond transactions, Project Maximus and Project Catalyze, created to raise more than $4 billion (16.7 billion ringgit) for 1MDB projects. Low, Leissner and Ng and two other people, including Mr Vella. Low as a client, after compliance officials raised concerns about the source of his money. While at Goldman (ticker: GS), Leissner was a powerful and senior figure: He was a partner at the bank and chairman of its Southeast Asia business.
The men were charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars from 1MDB and conspiring to bribe officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund has become the focus of an global scandal reaching from Malaysia to the United States to Hong Kong.
Since his government was swept out of power in a general election in May, Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been arrested by authorities in their home country and charged with a raft of graft-related offenses linked with the 1MDB financial scandal.
A Malaysian-Chinese born on the island of Penang whose grandfather was born in southern China's Guangdong, Low describes himself on his website Jho-Low.com as a "global investor and philanthropist" with experience in many companies, financings and projects in media, entertainment, retailing, hospitality and real estate.