Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, who was previously credited with delivering the bank lucrative Malaysian business, has told a court that the agreements were made possible by “bribes and kickbacks.”
Leissner was giving testimony in the trial of Roger Ng, a former colleague.
Prosecutors allege that the two men assisted in the diversion of billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund to pay bribes to politicians and others.
Ng, who is facing charges, has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Ng was a major banker for the 1MDB transactions, according to Leissner, the former head of Goldman’s Southeast Asia branch, who testified in a New York courtroom on Wednesday. Goldman helped generate $6.5 billion for the fund through a series of bond purchases.
Ng, Goldman’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia, said he and Ng were lauded as “heroes” within the bank for landing the contract, which paid Goldman $600 million in fees.
However, US authorities claim that $4.5 billion was diverted as bribes to Malaysian officials and others, who spent the money on art, jewelry, and real estate.
“The bribes and kickbacks made the transactions possible,” Leissner told a New York court on Wednesday.
In 2020, Goldman Sachs admitted to paying bribes in Malaysia and agreed to pay fines in the United States, Malaysia, and internationally.
Leissner agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to launder money and breach anti-bribery rules in 2018, and his attorney, Marc Agnifilo, has called his client a “fall guy” and attempted to cast suspicion on his veracity.
Prior to his sentencing, Leissner is collaborating with prosecutors.
“My greed and ambition took over,” Leissner said in the court, adding that the fallout from his actions had destroyed his life.
Ng, who served with Goldman from 2005 to May 2014, is accused of receiving $35 million in kickbacks for his role in the conspiracy, according to prosecutors.
They claim he introduced Leissner to Jho Low, a Chinese-Malaysian banker who is said to be the scheme’s mastermind and a confidant of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
They claim the two individuals concealed Low’s position from Goldman officials after the bank refused to do business with him.
For its role in the multibillion-dollar corruption scheme, Goldman Sachs reached a $3.9 billion settlement with the Malaysian government in 2020.
It also paid roughly $3 billion to four countries’ agencies to settle an investigation into work it did for 1MDB.
In the same year, Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, was convicted of misusing his position, laundering money, and betraying the public’s confidence and was condemned to 12 years in prison.
(Adapted from BBC.com)