Ex-Goldman banker's wife created shell entity after 1MDB deal

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng's lawyers said they intend to call his wife Hwee Bin Lim to testify for her husband. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng's wife created a shell company and opened a bank account that prosecutors say she used to help launder tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks from Malaysian financier Jho Low.

Jurors at Ng's bribery trial were shown a raft of e-mails Monday (March 21) that the United States said is proof Ng's wife, Hwee Bin Lim, "played a central and crucial role" in helping her husband launder the illicit payments from a trio of bond deals that Goldman Sachs engineered for the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB.

Ms Lim was not charged.

Ng is accused of conspiring with his former boss, Tim Leissner, to help Low siphon billions of dollars from the deals.

Ng is the only Goldman Sachs banker to go on trial in the scandal. Leissner has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government against Ng.

Low, who was also charged, is a fugitive.

A day before the first 1MDB bond deal closed, Lim inquired about creating the shell entity, Mr Sean Fern, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified Monday.

The company, initially named Silken Waters and later renamed Victoria Square, was opened, along with a bank account at UBS Group, just days after the bond deal closed, Fern said.

While Ms Lim's mother, Tan Kim Chin, was listed as the beneficial owner of the shell company, Mr Fern said he had traced e-mails showing that bankers communicated with Ms Lim about Victoria Square and the UBS account.

Prosecutors say for the first US$1.75 billion (S$2.38 billion) bond transaction, called "Project Magnolia," Low and his associates siphoned at least US$500 million, using a shell entity they created called Aabar PJS Limited in the British Virgin Islands.

Leissner said he received more than $60 million from Low, into accounts controlled by his then-wife Judy Chan Leissner.

Using Chan's accounts he said he sent Ng US$35.1 million through the entity set up by Ms Lim.

Ng has argued Leissner's wife sent the money to Ms Lim for an unrelated business transaction. His lawyers said they intend to call Ms Lim to testify for her husband.

An agent for the FBI Eric Van Dorn told the court last week that Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak reaped US$756 million of the US$6.5 billion raised in the bond offerings.

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