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Ex-banker in ‘brazen’ 1MDB scheme should be convicted: prosecutor

A former Goldman Sachs banker should be convicted of helping loot billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund and causing “immeasurable” harm, a US prosecutor told jurors in her closing argument on Monday. But a lawyer for the defendant Roger Ng, Goldman’s former top investment banker for Malaysia, countered that Ng had been falsely implicated in the looting by his former boss Tim Leissner, the government’s star witness. Ng, 49, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating an anti-corruption law. Prosecutors said he helped Leissner embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars, launder the proceeds and bribe officials to win business for Goldman. Assistant US Attorney Alixandra Smith said Ng received more than $35 million in kickbacks from the “brazen” bribery and money laundering scheme, and must be held accountable. “The harm to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable,” she told. “It is deeply unfair to everyone else who plays by the rules.” Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo said during his closing argument that there was “no evidence” his client was guilty. Agnifilo instead blamed Leissner, 52, who pleaded guilty to similar charges as Ng, and who the defense believes cooperated with prosecutors in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. “He never stopped lying ever, and he didn’t stop lying in this courtroom,” Agnifilo said, referring to Leissner. The nearly two-month trial stemmed from one of the biggest financial scandals in history. Prosecutors have said Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion through three bond sales, but that $4.5 billion was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks. Ng is the first, and likely only, person to face trial in the United States over the scheme. Goldman in 2020 paid a nearly $3 billion fine and its Malaysian unit agreed to plead guilty. Agnifilo has said Ng introduced Leissner to Malaysian financier Jho Low, the scheme’s suspected mastermind. He remains at large. Smith acknowledged that Leissner was seeking leniency by testifying, but said other testimony backed up his story. “What he told you about the crimes he committed with the defendant and others is backed up by and consistent with other evidence,” Smith said. “You already know the defendant is guilty from the other evidence.” Leissner testified that he sent Ng $35 million in kickbacks with the men agreeing to tell banks processing the transfers a “cover story” that the money was from a legitimate business venture between their wives. read more Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified last week that she invested $6 million in the mid-2000s in a Chinese company owned by the family of Leissner’s then-wife, Judy Chan. She said the $35 million in alleged kickbacks to her husband were in fact her return on that investment. Low was indicted in 2018 alongside Ng. Malaysian authorities say Low is in China, which Beijing denies.

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