In another court filing, Tim Leissner, 48, a former Goldman Sachs partner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing internal accounting controls.
Ng and Leissner's efforts in the scheme dated to 2009, when they began cultivating a relationship with Low, who allegedly "worked as an intermediary in relation to 1MDB and other foreign government officials" but did not hold a formal position at 1MDB and was never employed by the government.
In an online chat between Low and Leissner in June 2014, Low and Leissner "discussed the need to "suck up to" a 1MDB official and to send "cakes" to a person believed to be the wife of Malaysian Official #1", United States authorities said in a statement.
Yesterday, Reuters reported a three-count criminal indictment was unsealed in federal court in the Eastern District of NY charging Low Taek Jho, also known as "Jho Low," and Roger Ng with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB funds and for conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. Leissner pleaded guilty, and Ng was arrested in Malaysia.
Ng was arrested yesterday in Malaysia by his officers to assist the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in its investigations, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh told The Star.
The set of charges represent the first criminal prosecutions in the US arising from the epic corruption scandal at the state investment fund known as 1MDB.
The US Department of Justice has said a total of US$4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) was stolen from 1MDB through a complex web of transactions and fraudulent shell companies. As part of the deal, Leissner will forfeit $43.7 million.
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"Mr. Low simply asks that the public keep an open mind regarding this case until all of the evidence comes to light, which he believes will vindicate him", the statement said.
Goldman Sachs, which made hundreds of millions from their work with the fund, denies any wrongdoing.
Lawyers for Low and Leissner did not immediately return messages seeking comment. He remains at large. Low, a friend of Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, had no official role at 1MDB but had considerable influence over its dealings and was in frequent contact with Najib, U.S. authorities have said.
Prosecutors say Low, Ng, and Leissner conspired to launder the proceeds of fraud involving 1MDB through the USA financial system.
Former leader Mahathir Mohamad, outraged over the scandal, came out of retirement and the opposition united behind him in the national elections, leading to Najib's ouster in May.
Roughly $681m of that money is alleged to have ended up in the private bank accounts of Najib, who is facing 38 charges of corruption in an ongoing investigation into the 1MDB scandal. He has called the Malaysian charges political.