The jury in the 1MDB conspiracy case against former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng has asked to review testimony from his wife that the defence says is key to its case.
After seven weeks of testimony in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the jurors deciding the fate of Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia made the request soon after they began their deliberations on Tuesday (April 5) afternoon.
Ng’s wife, Lim Hwee Bin, testified last week on his behalf that a US$35.1 million (RM148 millioin) infusion of capital into a shell company she controlled wasn’t a kickback for her husband in the 1MDB scheme, but was from an unrelated, legitimate business transaction.
Ng is accused of conspiring to violate United States anti-bribery laws and launder money in a plot to steal billions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
Ng is the only Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker to go to trial in a case that saw the firm pay US$5bil (RM21bil) in penalties and its Malaysian unit plead guilty, one of the biggest blows to Goldman in its history.
Prosecutors called Ng a critical player in a bribe-paying and money-laundering scheme masterminded by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, in which US$2.7 billion (RM11.4 billion) was siphoned from the fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Goldman arranged bond deals for 1MDB.
The trial, which began with opening statements on Feb 14, featured Ng’s former boss, Tim Leissner, as the government’s star witness.
Leissner pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the US, for which he could win leniency at sentencing. Jho Low alone collected at least US$1.42 billion (RM6 billion) from the fraud, while he allegedly paid Ng US$35.1 million (RM148 million) in kickbacks and Leissner received more than US$60 million (RM253 million), according to the US.
Ng, 49, faces as many as 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Leissner, who was Goldman’s South-East Asia chairman, was the highest-ranking Goldman banker to plead guilty to the scheme to plunder 1MDB while Ng was the firm’s head of investment banking in Malaysia.
Low, who the United States says bribed government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to win the business for Goldman – and a jackpot for himself – is still at large. Former Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was convicted in Malaysia in 2020 on charges including money laundering and corruption and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He is appealing.
The jury went home at about 5pm Tuesday after requesting Lim’s testimony. The jurors will resume deliberations Wednesday (April 6) morning.
The case is US v. Low Taek Jho, 18-cr-538, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).