1MDB case: Jury told Jho Low partied like there was no tomorrow

Now-fugitive financier Jho Low had paid celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Megan Fox US$250,000 each. PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS, MEGANFOX/INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - A quarter of a million US dollars (S$336,000) for Leonardo DiCaprio. A US$385,773 bar tab. Five grand for "model wrangling".

These were among the expenses that jurors in the federal conspiracy trial of former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng heard about on Tuesday (Feb 15), as a government witness described how millions of dollars siphoned off in the 1MDB scandal were frittered away on lavish parties hosted by a high-flying Malaysian financier.

Ng is accused of conspiring with former star Goldman banker Tim Leissner to help the now-fugitive financier Jho Low steal the funds in exchange for kickbacks.

The jury in Brooklyn, New York, learned of invoices from a Las Vegas party for Low in which food, beverages, "talent" and "top quality models", among other items, added up to more than US$3.6 million. That big bar tab included 65 bottles of Cristal Champagne for about US$100,000 and a US$38,955 tip.

Ng, the only former Goldman Sachs employee to stand trial in the United States for the scandal, is charged with conspiring to violate US anti-money-laundering law to steal billions of dollars from the Malaysian fund 1MDB.

The expenses are what Low did with some of the US$700 million he made off with in the global fraud, according to prosecutors.

As the government described the fruits of a scam stretching from Malaysia to Wall Street, the jury got a look at some celebrity fees: DiCaprio: US$250,000; Paris Hilton: US$100,000; Megan Fox: US$250,000; Kim Kardashian: US$50,000.

Basically, the panel was told, Low partied like there was no tomorrow.

The sums flew by as Alex Cohen, the chief financial officer of Strategic Group, an entertainment and marketing company that arranged parties for Low, testified.

Cohen described a series of shindigs that featured guests and entertainers such as Sean "Diddy" Combs, Jamie Foxx and Fergie.

He said Low provided the entertainment company with at least 25 per cent of its profit in 2012 and that for one event it was paid US$5,000 for the said model wrangling alone - all allegedly fuelled by money Low took from 1MDB.

A July 2012 event Strategic handled for Low aboard a yacht on the French Riviera dictated that models be flown in.

During cross-examination by defence lawyer Zach Intrater, Cohen was asked why he had written "Strategic Escorts LLC" when referring to the company's efforts to hire the models.

"I was poking fun that there were women coming on this boat trip and we were procuring these women," he said.

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