A former Goldman Sachs banker convicted of helping to carry out a massive multi-billion dollar fraud involving a Malaysian development fund will spend 10 years in prison, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled Thursday.
Roger Ng, 51, conspired with his colleague Tim Leissner and Malaysian socialite Jho Low to convince the New York-based bank to raise billions in cash in 2012 for 1MDB, a Malaysian fund aimed at helping the country’s economy, prosecutors said. A jury found him guilty last April.
Meanwhile, Ng and his henchmen secretly bribed high-level officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to steal more than $1 billion from the fund for their own use, paying for lavish parties, chartered private jets, yachts, and six-star diamonds. carats. rings
Some of the stolen money was even used to finance the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, according to the feds.
“This is one of the largest financial crimes in the history of the world,” Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Margo Brodie said in handing down her sentence. “It has been difficult to fully understand the complexity, scope and impact of this financial bribery scheme.”
Ng was making more than $1 million a year through his job and still chose to receive $35 million from the scam, prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed this month.
“Even though he had a great job, made good money and would have been comfortable, the only explanation for his behavior is greed,” Brodie said.
Ng and other Goldman Sachs bankers helped 1MDB raise $6.5bn through bond sales, but diverted $4.5bn of that money into their pockets and those of their accomplices. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other Malaysian officials were involved. Razak is serving a 12-year sentence in Malaysia.
“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining public trust in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale” said US Attorney Breon Peace.
Low, the alleged mastermind, is still on the run from the law.
Ng’s defense attorneys were seeking a sentence of time served. She spent six months in a Malaysian jail after his arrest in 2018, during which time she contracted malaria and severe leptospirosis, a potentially deadly bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected rats.
“There is no more general deterrent I can think of than putting a Goldman Sachs managing director in a small Malaysian prison cell with only one hole to defecate,” said his lawyer, Marc Agnifilo.
The experience left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, Agnifilo said.
“Sir. Ng’s cell was covered in rats. There was nothing to stop the rats from entering. There were rats and there were mosquitoes,” he said. got it.”
That torment ended when he was extradited to New York and placed under house arrest, but he was 10,000 miles away from his wife and daughter in Malaysia, and the COVID-19 epidemic left him isolated, awaiting trial for years, Agnifilo said. .
“The prison for Mr. Ng is going to be different from the prison for someone else,” he said. “PTSD is real… No one should have to go through it. Prisoners are not deprived of their family. That’s not what they’re deprived of.”
Ng told the judge that the last time he held his daughter was five years ago, the day before his arrest in Malaysia, when she was 6 years old.
He added: “I am embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I have failed and overwhelmed them. The road ahead is long… It destroys me that my family is punished even more because of me.”
Ng, a Malaysian citizen, faces trial there as his sentence expires.
During the trial, Agnifilo criticized the credibility of the prosecution’s lead witness, Leissner, characterizing him as a bigamist who forged divorce papers to trick one of his wives into thinking she was his only wife. Ng, he said, was offered by Leissner as a scapegoat.
Leissner has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges, and is scheduled for sentencing in September. Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty and returned $2.9 billion, according to prosecutors. Ng’s family handed over $35 million that the Malaysian government found in 11 separate accounts.
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Ng’s face fell when Brodie announced his ruling on Thursday.
She said she factored in how he “suffered a lot” in his sentence, which was significantly less than the approximately 20 to 25 years recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.
“By all accounts, this was horrible,” he said, but noted that other defendants awaiting trial in jail don’t get the chance to communicate with their family every day the way Ng does with his daughter.
“You read to him every night before he goes to bed, you talk to him every morning,” he said. “It’s not a substitute for being there for your daughter, but it’s something.”
The judge added: “There is a critical need to deter crimes of pure greed like this.”
Agnifilo said he is “disappointed” by the sentence and plans to appeal the sentence.
Ng is scheduled to turn himself in to federal prison authorities on May 4, although his lawyers may still file an application to keep him out on bail pending his appeal.