United States charges Malaysian financier, Goldman Sachs bankers over 1MDB

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The 36-year-old Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, was indicted in the federal court in the Eastern District of NY on Thursday, the same day the department arrested former Goldman Sachs banker, Ng Chong Hwa (Roger Ng), was arrested in Malaysia. He has been ordered to forfeit US$43.7 million (S$60.2 million).

These are the first U.S. criminal charges in the case which spawned investigations around the world.

The scandal has raised fresh questions about corporate culture at the prestigious investment bank.

The men were charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars from 1MDB and conspiring to bribe officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The department alleges that the Goldman bankers...

A Malaysian-Chinese born on the island of Penang whose grandfather was born in southern China's Guangdong, Low describes himself on his website Jho-Low.com as a "global investor and philanthropist" with experience in many companies, financings and projects in media, entertainment, retailing, hospitality and real estate.

Criminal scheme, Hollywood films and exquisite artwork.

Goldman Sachs has said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and that it had no knowledge of how the money from the fund was being used.

Low, Ng, Leissner, and others also conspired to bribe government officials in Malaysia, including at 1MDB - a state-owned and controlled fund meant to fund economic development projects in the country - and Abu Dhabi to keep lucrative deals to themselves, federal prosecutors said.

"They also allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the USA financial system by purchasing, among other things, luxury residential real estate in New York City and elsewhere, and artwork from a New York-based auction house, and by funding major Hollywood films".

A family friend of Mr Najib, Mr Low had no official role at 1MDB but had considerable influence over its dealings and was often in contact with Mr Najib, according to USA authorities. Goldman declined to comment on Vella's behalf, and a call to Vella wasn't immediately returned.

Goldman Sachs arranged bond offerings that helped the fund raise more than US$6 billion, much of which, according to worldwide authorities, was squirrelled away in private accounts and used to buy yachts, paintings and high-end real estate. Leissner, Ng and others received large bonuses in connection with that revenue.

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But more than US$2.7 billion went to kickbacks and bribes, according to the charges.

Meanwhile, a United States court has allowed the sale of a private jet allegedly bought by Low with money taken from 1MDB, court filings show.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up the fund, in which Low played a key role.

In an online chat between Low and Leissner in June 2014, Low and Leissner discussed the need to "suck up to" a 1MDB official and to send "cakes" to a person believed to be the wife of MO, the department said. Both Leissner and Ng departed the bank over 12 months ago.

Mr Daim said that on one occasion, he demanded that Low return to Malaysia and provide names involved in the 1MDB corruption scandal.

In an online chat between Low and Leissner in June 2014, Low and Leissner "discussed the need to "suck up to" a 1MDB official and to send "cakes" to a person believed to be the wife of Malaysian Official #1", USA authorities said in a statement.

"As noted in the indictment today, Mr".

Ng and Leissner's efforts in the scheme dated to 2009, when they began cultivating a relationship with Low, who allegedly "worked as an intermediary in relation to 1MDB and other foreign government officials" but did not hold a formal position at 1MDB and was never employed by the government.

"Furthermore, the bond offerings detailed in the indictment were undertaken openly and lawfully between experienced, well-regulated financial institutions and government entities".

The young Malaysian tycoon wanted by the USA for his alleged role in ransacking a state investment fund says he's innocent, and he's been fighting back against the allegations while in hiding.

In a statement dated November 1 that reiterated earlier comments, Low asked that people "keep an open mind" and said evidence will vindicate him.