A former Goldman Sachs banker was convicted Friday of bribery and other corruption charges accusing him of participating in a $4.5 billion scheme to ransack the Malaysian state investment fund known as 1MDB.
A jury reached the verdict at the U.S. trial of Roger Ng in federal court in Brooklyn. Jurors had heard nearly two months of evidence about tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks allegedly orchestrated by Malaysian financier and fugitive socialite Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.
Defense attorney Marc Agnifilo said he was surprised by the verdict because “the evidence wasn’t reliable,” and that an appeal was under consideration. He also said the defense team was more disappointed than his client.
Ng “is doing better than his lawyers,” Agnifilo said. “He has great fortitude.”
The embezzlement bankrolled lavish spending on jewels, art, a superyacht and luxury real estate. The spoils even helped finance wild parties and Hollywood movies, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street” that starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
“With today’s verdict, a powerful message has been delivered to those who commit financial crimes motivated by greed,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
A former head of investment banking in Malaysia, Ng is the only Goldman banker to stand trial in the 1MDB scandal. The 49-year-old had pleaded not guilty to three counts — conspiring to launder money and violating two anti-bribery laws.
Prosecutors alleged that Ng and other Goldman Sachs bankers helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion through bond sales — only to divert $4.5 billion of it to themselves and their co-conspirators through bribes and kickbacks.
“The harm to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable,” prosecutor Alixandra Smith said during closing arguments. “It is deeply unfair to everyone else who plays by the rules.”