The lengths Goldman went to in order to loot billions of dollars from 1MDB.
The star witness in the bribery trial of former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng testified that ex-Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein met in 2009 with then Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak just ahead of big bond deals for 1MDB – and that the meeting came with an agenda.
In return for the lucrative business, Goldman was to get Najib’s three children jobs at the bank, former Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner told the jury on Tuesday in his second day of testimony about the 1MDB scheme.
Leissner testified that the meeting between Blankfein and Najib had occurred at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, based on recommendations by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, after Najib went to the US to meet his children for the Thanksgiving holidays, which is celebrated there in late November every year.
Leissner, 52, was describing the lengths he said he, his subordinate Ng and a tight circle of Goldman partners went to in order to loot billions of dollars from the Malaysian wealth fund.
Ng, who had travelled to New York to meet with his Goldman bosses, told Leissner he had met Najib’s children himself, according to Leissner.
“Just met PM’s three children at his apartment, am with Jho at his apartment,” Leissner read to the jury from an email. He said Ng added: “Meeting him again tomorrow and will work at getting his three children to join Goldman Sachs.”
Leissner expressed no qualms but instead enthusiastically replied: “Sounds good, let’s get them in.”
He explained his reasoning, saying, “The prime minister of Malaysia was potentially great business for us, so I felt having the children of the prime minister work for us would potentially be seen, not just for the prime minister”, but that “all others in Asia would take notice”.
In the end, Leissner testified, he helped get Najib’s daughter a job at TPG.
He also testified that he and Ng used codenames when referring to Low, such as “Friend” and “PMO” (for the Prime Minister’s Office), to avoid detection by Goldman’s oversight officials.
“Had we raised [Low’s] name in his true capacity, we would not have been approved [by the oversight officials],” Leissner said, explaining that Goldman had concerns about the source of Low’s wealth.
Leissner described Low as “essential” and “a key decision-maker” in securing business in Malaysia, and added that Low had secretly given Goldman’s bankers inside information on how 1MDB was choosing a bank to advise it.
Additionally, he said that Low had even proposed a deal involving hiring Goldman to oversee the purchase of a Kazakh gold mine.
Meanwhile, Najib today refuted the testimony by Leissner.
“None of my children have ever been offered a job or even a job at Goldman Sachs.
“While the headlines of the local media gave the impression that I was being bribed by Goldman Sachs who offered for my children to work at the bank, what former executive witness Tim Leissner described was their ATTEMPT to bribe me. Yet this did not happen and none of my children had ever been offered a job at Goldman Sachs and had never worked at that US bank. (That too an offer to work, not an offer to be given projects or bribes),” Najib wrote in a Facebook post today.