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Ex-Goldman Sachs banker will spend decade behind bars for $4 billion corruption and money laundering conspiracy in 1MDB case

Roger Ng

Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng arrives at U.S. Federal Court in New York on Feb. 8, 2022. Ng, former head of investment banking in Malaysia, was convicted of federal charges of conspiracy to launder money and violate US anti-bribery laws. (Photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng will spend a decade in prison for his role in a $4 billion money laundering and corruption conspiracy in the 1MDB case, which involved the looting of Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Department of Justice denounced Ng’s contributions to what they called a “massive and egregious bribery and money laundering scheme,” which robbed common Malaysians of billions.

“The Justice Department remains firmly committed to holding accountable individuals who engage in corruption, undermine the rule of law, and abuse our financial system to launder their illicit funds,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, wrote in a statement.

Ng received more than $35 million in kickbacks between 2012 and 2013, the jury found. Some of the money in the scheme was used for bribes.

Calling the scheme “obscene in its greed,” the Eastern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney Breon Peace celebrated Ng’s conviction last year as a “victory for not only the rule of law but also for the people of Malaysia.” He sounded a similar tone upon Ng’s sentencing.

“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale,” Peace said.

Malaysian businessman Jho Low, whom authorities call the architect of the scheme, remains a fugitive and is believed to be living in China. Former Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy pleaded guilty more than two years ago to illegally lobbying the Donald Trump administration for millions on Low’s behalf.

Ng, who was a managing director of Goldman Sachs subsidiaries, was the first person convicted in the 1MDB saga. He conspired with others to launder billions through three bond transactions executed with Goldman Sachs, known as “Project Magnolia,” “Project Maximus,” and “Project Catalyze,” prosecutors say.

His co-conspirator Tim Leissner, a former Goldman partner, pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering charges in 2018. He’s awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors say that Ng, Leissner, and Low funneled the loot through the U.S. financial system by funding major Hollywood films like “The Wolf of Wall Street” — and buying a $51 million Jean-Michael Basquiat painting at Christie’s, a $23 million diamond necklace, millions of dollars in Hermes handbags from a dealer based on Long Island, and luxury real estate in Manhattan.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that FBI documents show that actor Leonardo DiCaprio was questioned about the financing of the film in which he starred. The bureau also interviewed Kim Kardashian about meeting Low and partying with him in Las Vegas, the outlet reported.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."