Goldman Sachs Banker Who Gambled with 1MDB Fugitive Awaits Verdict

Posted on: April 6, 2022, 06:33h. 

Last updated on: April 8, 2022, 10:59h.

In closing arguments Monday, US prosecutors urged a federal jury in New York to convict former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng of money laundering and bribing foreign officials. They accuse the ex-banker of helping international fugitive Jho Low steal billions from the Malaysian sovereign investment fund, known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Roger Ng, center, leaving a New York federal courtroom in May 2019. He denies helping rogue financier Jho Low loot the 1MDB fund in return for kickbacks. (Image: Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Prosecutors say Ng convinced the investment bank to sign off on three bond deals totaling US$6.5 billion for the 1MDB fund in return for $35 million in kickbacks. Low, real name Low Taek Jho, is accused of ransacking US$4.5 billion from the fund, which was meant for development and infrastructure projects within Malaysia. He is believed to be hiding out in China.

Ng denies the charges. The defense team argued he is being scapegoated by his former boss, Tim Leissner. Also implicated, Leissner is testifying for the prosecution and hopes for leniency.

High Stakes at the Venetian

But Assistant United States attorney Alixandra Smith reminded the jury Monday that Ng had maintained a personal relationship with Low. The pair traveled to Las Vegas to gamble together, flying from Singapore on Low’s private jet.

Earlier in the trial, the jury heard from Kirk Godby, a Venetian Las Vegas marketing executive, who testified about Low’s extravagant gambling habits. Godby said the rogue financier was one of the casino’s biggest whales.

Low wagered $87 million at the Venetian alone, once losing $1.75 million in a 90-minute baccarat session. He would make demands of casino staff that were “parallel to none,” such as that they provide disco balls, dance floors, and DJs in the VIP room, according to Godby.

But Smith noted that when Low and Ng gambled together, they accompanied “Fat” Eric Tan Kim Loong, who was allegedly “involved in all of the bank accounts.”

Ng also hung out on a yacht Low rented in Nice for over €1 million and used Low’s luxury London apartment.

‘Glory and Greed’

“Why did he do it?” asked Smith. “Simple. Glory and greed. The defendant was making millions of dollars a year as a banker at Goldman Sachs, but that wasn’t good enough for him.

He wanted the glory of bringing in the biggest deals that Goldman had ever done in Asia, to move up at the bank from managing director to partner; and, most importantly, he wanted the money he had been promised if the scheme succeeded, which ultimately was $35 million,” Smith continued.

Ng denies knowing that some of this money was looted from 1MDB. He says it proceeded from a $6 million investment he and his wife had made with Leissner’s second wife, Judy Chan.