1MDB-linked banker disappears from US website

A former Goldman Sachs Group banker embroiled in the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal has quietly vanished from the website of his last-known employer, a US-based energy drinks company backed by Hong Kong's richest man.

Mr Roger Ng has been scrubbed off the website of Celsius Holdings, where he was previously listed as managing director for Asia.

Ms Kathy Carliner, an outside spokesman for Celsius, declined to comment on the reasons for the removal, or on Mr Ng's employment status with the firm, as did Horizons Ventures, the venture capital arm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing, which is a key investor in Celsius. Representatives for Mr Ng could not be reached for comment.

Mr Ng is not the only link that Celsius has to 1MDB, the fund at the centre of a globe-spanning financial scandal that has infected corners of Wall Street and Hollywood. Another former Goldman Sachs banker, Mr Tim Leissner, is a shareholder in the US firm.

Celsius said in April 2015 that Mr Leissner would join its board. He left the bank in early 2016 and stepped down from Celsius in May last year. Mr Ng, who introduced Mr Leissner to 1MDB and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, according to people familiar with the matter, left the bank in 2014 and joined Celsius as the firm's most senior executive in Asia in 2016.

Mr Russell Simmons, the former husband of Mr Leissner's wife Kimora and another shareholder in Celsius, touched on who had invested in the firm in an April 2015 interview with Bloomberg Television. "I was speaking to Kimora," Mr Simmons said. "She's married to Tim Leissner and he knew the group in Hong Kong and we talked about what it might be to acquire a big piece of it and we did."

Founded in 2004, Celsius has been incurring losses for at least the past decade. Its energy drinks, which claim to burn fats, are sold in Target Corp stores and distributed by Mr Li's A.S. Watson Group in Asia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2018, with the headline '1MDB-linked banker disappears from US website'. Print Edition | Subscribe