Ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng wasn't even at key 1MDB meetings, witness says

Roger Ng (pictured) is accused of plotting with Tim Leissner and Jho Low to pull off the 1MDB fraud. PHOTO: REUTERS

BROOKLYN (BLOOMBERG) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng was not always included in meetings held by key players in the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), according to testimony presented by his defence team.

Ng, the only Goldman banker to go to trial in the 1MDB scandal, is accused of plotting with his former boss Tim Leissner and Malaysian financier Jho Low to pull off a fraud in which billions of dollars were siphoned from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Leissner, who pleaded guilty and testified against Ng, said he collected more than US$60 million (S$81 million) in kickbacks from Low and paid Ng more than US$35.1 million.

But as Ng's lawyers began presenting his defence on Thursday (March 24), they tried to show that Leissner met multiple times with Low and others involved in the 1MDB fraud when Ng was not present.

"Please don't tell Roger about our meeting with the friend," Leissner wrote in a Blackberry message to another Goldman banker in 2012 at a time when Leissner, Low and Ng were all in Hong Kong after one of the 1MDB bond transactions closed.

Shortly afterwards, an offshore account in the name of Leissner's wife's paid a US$2 million bribe to an adviser of then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, records show.

The next day, Low and Leissner each flew to Las Vegas for a gala birthday bash, according to Ms Katelyn Giesler, an assistant at the law firm of defence lawyer Teny Geragos. While Leissner was listed among Malaysian guests for Low's event, Ng's name was not, Ms Giesler said.

Nor was Ng aboard a yacht on the Mediterranean chartered by Low in July 2013 when the financier presented the wife of then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak with a 22-carat pink diamond necklace purchased with 1MDB funds, Ms Giesler testified.

Ng also did not join Leissner and Najib for dinner in San Tropez a few days later, she said, noting that records show he was not even in Europe at the time.

Prosecutors rested their case earlier on Thursday after their final witness, an FBI agent, walked the jury through scores of e-mails and other records the government says show Ng conspired with Low.

Trial testimony resumes on Monday. The case is US v Low Taek Jho, 18-cr-538, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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