U.S. charges Low, ex-Goldman bankers in 1MDB case

Jho Low contacted Mahathir's adviser last week to seek immunity: Report

Jho Low contacted Mahathir's adviser last week to seek immunity: Report

Also unsealed yesterday in federal court in the Eastern District of NY was the guilty plea of Tim Leissner, the former South-east Asia Chairman and participating managing director of the Financial Institution, to a two-count criminal information charging Leissner with conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by both paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing the internal accounting controls of the Financial Institution while he was employed by it.

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. Police in Malaysia said in July that Low had fled Macau to an unknown destination.

The three-count indictment on Thursday charges Low Taek Jho of misappropriating money from the state-owned fund and using it to bribe foreign officials and to pay for luxury real estate, art and jewelry in the USA and to fund Hollywood film, including "The Wolf of Wall Street". Ng was arrested earlier yesterday in Malaysia, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the U.S., they said.

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 long-ruling coalition was ousted in a May election, and then-Prime Minister Najib Razak, who set up the fund, now faces criminal charges in Malaysia.

"In total, 1MDB officials allegedly laundered more than $4.5 billion in funds through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts in countries ranging from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States", Sessions said. He was ordered to forfeit $43.7 million as part of his guilty plea. Low, through his attorneys, had previously maintained his innocence and said he is confident of being vindicated.

In a speech past year in Washington, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions denounced the scandal as "kleptocracy at its worst".

Low, known as Jho Low, remains at large, prosecutors said in a statement.

Goldman has placed its former co-head of Asia investment banking, Andrea Vella, on leave over his role in the firm's involvement with the case, pending a review of allegations, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Goldman has not yet responded to the indictments.

In June, anti-corruption investigators questioned Najib's wife about alleged theft and money-laundering.

Najib and Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the former treasury secretary-general, pleaded not guilty to misappropriating government funds between December 2016 and December 2017. Najib accuses the new administration of seeking political vengeance and has vowed to clear his name.

Mustian reported from NY.

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