US charges Jho Low, former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

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In another court filing, Tim Leissner, 48, a former Goldman Sachs partner, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing internal accounting controls.

According to Astro Awani, Mr Daim said he demanded that Low return to Malaysia and provide names involved in the corruption scandal.

Yesterday, Reuters reported a three-count criminal indictment was unsealed in federal court in the Eastern District of NY charging Low Taek Jho, also known as "Jho Low," and Roger Ng with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB funds and for conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.

Roger Ng, the other charged former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia at the request of US authorities and is expected to be extradited, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecution.

These are the first criminal charges brought in the case, and the indictment accuses the men of laundering dirty money through the USA financial system by purchasing luxury New York City real estate, artwork from an unnamed New York-based auction houses, and by funding unspecified major Hollywood productions.

The US Department of Justice has said a total of US$4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) was stolen from 1MDB through a complex web of transactions and fraudulent shell companies. He will forfeit $43.7 million as a "result of his crimes", officials said.

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A Sydney-based public relations firm representing an unnamed spokesman for the Penang-born better known as Jho Low issued a media statement telling the public that he is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It says initially a $1 billion investment was diverted and in subsequent phases money was siphoned from sales of 1MDB bonds.

A lawyer for Leissner could not immediately be reached for comment. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the scandal "kleptocracy at its worst".

Prosecutors in the United States and elsewhere believe that a group of people with close ties to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak stole from the fund to buy paintings, yachts, real estate and even investment stakes in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street. Najib chaired its advisory board and as finance minister held veto power over its activities. Also charged was Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whom prosecutors have depicted as being a mastermind of a scheme to misappropriate money from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. Outraged by the scandal, former leader Mahathir Mohamad came out of political retirement, and the opposition united behind him in the national elections. Police have also seized hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash - worth more than $266 million - during raids on apartments linked to Najib's family.

The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib. It relied primarily on debt to fund investment and economic development projects and was overseen by senior Malaysian government officials, according to court records.

Mustian reported from NY.

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