US charges Jho Low, former Goldman bankers for 1MDB
US charges Jho Low, former Goldman bankers for 1MDB
Jhlo Low, ex-Goldman bankers accused of laundering billions in stolen funds
02 November, 2018, 15:00
News reports yesterday said former senior Goldman Sachs banker in Asia Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to U.S. bribery and money laundering charges.
According to Astro Awani, Mr Daim said he demanded that Low return to Malaysia and provide names involved in the corruption scandal.
While US prosecutors have previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds, these are the first criminal charges the Justice Department has brought against individuals in the case under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law targeting official bribery overseas.
Ng, a managing director at Goldman, and Leissner, who worked as Southeast Asia chairman and managing director at Goldman, sought on three occasions to make Low a formal client, but were rebuffed because officials in the compliance group had "concerns" about the source of the person's wealth and deemed he would not be a "suitable" client.
The money was supposed to support development projects, but prosecutors say the three men "conspired to launder" more than $2.7bn through the U.S. financial system, and used this money to pay bribes and "for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives".
These are the first criminal charges brought in the case, and the indictment accuses the men of laundering dirty money through the USA financial system by purchasing luxury New York City real estate, artwork from an unnamed New York-based auction houses, and by funding unspecified major Hollywood productions. The justice department's kleptocracy asset recovery initiative has already filed civil charges aimed at seizing assets allegedly bought with embezzled 1MDB funds, including a $39m mansion in the Los Angeles hills and a $30m penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. He has been ordered to forfeit US$43.7 million (S$60.2 million).
Mr Low, who was charged earlier in Malaysia, has repeatedly declared his innocence. USA officials say he remains at large.
Lawyers for Leissner and Low could not immediately be reached for comment.
Goldman Sachs, which made hundreds of millions from their work with the fund, denies any wrongdoing.
In a speech past year in Washington, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions denounced the scandal as "kleptocracy at its worst". It relied primarily on debt to fund investment and economic development projects and was overseen by senior Malaysian government officials, according to court records.
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Prosecutors say Low, Ng, and Leissner conspired to launder the proceeds of fraud involving 1MDB through the USA financial system.
Najib in 2015 sacked his attorney general and a deputy prime minister for demanding answers about 1MDB. Outraged by the scandal, former leader Mahathir Mohamad came out of political retirement, and the opposition united behind him in the national elections. Numerous charges - multiple counts of corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust - are linked to 1MDB.
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