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Friday, October 07, 2022

Jury begins deliberation on US trial triggered by 1MBD fraud

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – A jury on Tuesday began deliberating in a US trial that stemmed from an audacious plan in which former bankers at Goldman Sachs sabotaged a Malaysian state investment fund known as 1MBD .

The jurors went to work after receiving lengthy instruction from US District Judge Margo Brody in a two-month trial in federal court in Brooklyn. They ended the day without a decision after nearly two hours of deliberations that resumed on Wednesday.

Prosecutors allege that former banker Roger Ng helped rob 1MDB by raising $6.5 billion for the fund through bond sales, then giving $4.5 billion of it through bribes and bribes to himself and corrupt associates.

“The loss to the people of Malaysia is immeasurable,” prosecutor Alexandra Smith said during the closing arguments. “It’s deeply unfair to everyone who plays by the rules.”

Ng’s defense attorneys described the fraud against the fund as “perhaps the biggest robbery in the history of the world”. But they argue that prosecutors made Ng a scapegoat for crimes committed by others, including Tim Leisner, an associate witness to the government.

“Roger is basically the guy to fall for this whole thing,” attorney Mark Agnifilo said. “And Tim Leisner is looking to close the biggest deal of his life.”

A former head of investment banking in Malaysia, Ng is the only Goldman banker to be prosecuted in the 1MDB scam. The 49-year-old has pleaded not guilty to three counts, including conspiracy to launder money and violating an anti-bribery law.

Over the course of several days at the witness stand, Leisner testified that he, Ng and Lou Taek Zoe – the Malaysian financier and fugitive socialite known as Zoe Lo – had used off-shore accounts to “hide the flow of funds”. And used shell companies. He added that money laundering attempts also included forging contracts with banks.

“If we tell the truth to a bank, it will not work. … the house of cards must have fallen,” he said.

Leisner, 52, pleaded guilty in 2018 to paying millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. He was ordered to forfeit $43.7 million as part of his guilty plea and agreed to testify against Ng.

The embezzlement controlled heavy spending on jewelry, art, a superyacht and luxury real estate. The booty also helped finance Hollywood films, including the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Lou, who maintains his innocence, became famous in the New York City and Los Angeles club scenes. In 2012, they celebrated their 31st birthday, attended by DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities – a celebration described by The Wall Street Journal as “the wildest party (Las) Vegas ever seen”.

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