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HomeWorldEx-Goldman Sachs banker convicted of bribery, corruption in $4.5 bln scheme

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker convicted of bribery, corruption in $4.5 bln scheme

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A former Goldman Sachs banker was convicted on Friday of bribery and other corruption charges accusing him of participating in a $4.5 billion scheme to ransack the Malaysian state investment fund known as 1MDB.

A jury reached the verdict at the U.S. trial of Roger Ng in federal court in Brooklyn. Jurors had heard nearly two months of evidence about tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks allegedly orchestrated by Malaysian financier and fugitive socialite Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

Defence attorney Marc Agnifilo told reporters outside court that he was surprised by the verdict because “the evidence wasn’t reliable,” and that he was considering an appeal. He also said the defence team was more disappointed than his client.

Ng “is doing better than his lawyers,” Agnifilo said. “He has great fortitude.”

The embezzlement bankrolled lavish spending on jewels, art, a superyacht and luxury real estate. The spoils even helped finance wild parties and Hollywood movies, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street” which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

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“With today’s verdict, a powerful message has been delivered to those who commit financial crimes motivated by greed,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

Ng faces up to 30 years in prison. No sentencing date was set.

A former head of investment banking in Malaysia, Ng is the only Goldman banker to stand trial in the 1MDB scandal. The 49-year-old had pleaded not guilty to three counts — conspiring to launder money and violating two anti-bribery laws.

Prosecutors alleged that Ng and other Goldman Sachs bankers helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion through bond sales — only to divert $4.5 billion of it to themselves and their co-conspirators through bribes and kickbacks.

“The harm to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable,” prosecutor Alixandra Smith said during closing arguments. “It is deeply unfair to everyone else who plays by the rules.”

Ng’s defence attorneys have described the looting of the 1MDB state investment fund as “perhaps the single largest heist in the history of the world.” But they contend U.S. prosecutors scapegoated Ng for crimes committed by others, including the government’s star witness, Tim Leissner.

“Roger is basically the fall guy for this whole thing,” Agnifilo said in his closing argument. “And Tim Leissner is looking to close the biggest deal of his life.”

Agnifilo accused Leissner, a higher-ranking Goldman banker, of falsely implicating Ng in a bid for leniency in his own criminal case.

Leissner “never stopped lying ever, and he didn’t stop lying in this courtroom,” Agnifilo said. ~AP

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