Former Goldman banker Ng central figure in 1MDB deal, US DOJ star witness Leissner testifies

09 March 2022 22:18 by Robert Thomason


Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng made Goldman's initial contact with a financier charged with orchestrating the 1MDB bribery and money laundering scheme for which Ng is on trial, and then stayed in contact with the financier and others at significant steps in the scheme, the cooperating witness for the US Justice Department said today during his final day of testimony.

Ng made contact with Jho Low, a fugitive co-defendant of Ng's, in 2009 and later brought Low into Goldman's pursuit of an initial bond deal with 1MDB, the sovereign development fund of Malaysia, said Tim Leissner, a former Goldman partner, on re-direct examination by DOJ prosecutor Drew Rolle.

Leissner, who is testifying under a cooperation agreement with the DOJ, spent five days under cross examination by Ng defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo, who attacked Leissner's credibility on a range of topics, including his descriptions of Ng's involvement in the 1MDB scheme. Rolle said Agnifilo had asked Leissner many questions about Leissner's dealings with Low from 2015 through 2018 that had nothing to do with the charges against Ng.

Leissner affirmed that Ng also twice put Low forward to Goldman as a potential private wealth management client. Low was rejected by Goldman due to the bank's wariness of the source of his wealth and because of his widely reported reputation as a free-spending playboy.

Further, Leissner said Ng had attended a February 2012 meeting in London with Low, where Low allegedly outlined the bribery scheme and made a presentation about the financial structure of a $1.75 billion bond underwriting deal that was the first of three that Goldman obtained through bribery.

Leissner also affirmed that Ng had been at an initial meeting with government officials in Abu Dhabi to secure guarantees for the bond. Leissner has pleaded guilty to helping to bribe those officials, and the DOJ alleges Ng was also part of the conspiracy.

Rolle asked Leissner whether Ng had violated the law or Goldman policy during these actions, and Leissner said that Ng had.

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