Ex-Goldman banker in plea talks to avoid US trial over 1MDB charges

Former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng is charged with violating American anti-bribery laws and conspiring to launder money embezzled from 1MDB.
Former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng is charged with violating American anti-bribery laws and conspiring to launder money embezzled from 1MDB.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng is still in plea talks to avoid a US trial on charges that he violated American anti-bribery laws and conspired to launder money embezzled from Malaysia's state investment fund 1MDB.

At a hearing Thursday (July 18) in federal court in Brooklyn, with Ng present, prosecutors told US District Judge Margo Brodie the talks have been slowed by a "tremendous amount of discovery evidence." About 640,000 documents have been prepared, Assistant US Attorney Drew Rolle said.

Rolle also cited the government's concern about what sensitive material Ng will be able to see and that alleged co-conspirator Jho Low, who is accused of looting the fund, remains at large. The judge said "discovery needs to move forward" despite the complex nature of the case and set the next hearing for Aug 20.

Ng arrived in New York from Malaysia in early May and pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors alleged bribes and kickbacks were paid in connection with Goldman's bond offerings on 1MDB's behalf, which helped raise more than US$6 billion (S$8.14 billion) for the fund and US$600 million in fees for the bank.

Former senior Goldman banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Malaysia and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing Goldman's internal accounting controls.

Ng is also charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and a money-laundering conspiracy, crimes which carry a maximum sentence of decades in prison.