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Ex-Goldman banker in plea talks over alleged role in 1MDB

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng (left) and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo leave the federal court in New York, U.S., May 6, 2019. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

By Gerald Porter Jr.

(Bloomberg) -- Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Roger Ng is still in plea talks to avoid a U.S. trial on charges that he violated American anti-bribery laws and conspired to launder money embezzled from Malaysia’s state investment fund 1MDB.

At a hearing Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, with Ng present, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie the talks have been slowed by a “tremendous amount of discovery evidence.” About 640,000 documents have been prepared, Assistant U.S. Attorney Drew Rolle said.

Rolle also cited the government’s concern about what sensitive material Ng will be able to see and that alleged co-conspirator Jho Low, who is accused of looting the fund, remains at large. The judge said “discovery needs to move forward” despite the complex nature of the case and set the next hearing for Aug. 20.

Ng arrived in New York from Malaysia in early May and pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors alleged bribes and kickbacks were paid in connection with Goldman’s bond offerings on 1MDB’s behalf, which helped raise more than $6 billion for the fund and $600 million in fees for the bank. Former senior Goldman banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Malaysia and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing Goldman’s internal accounting controls.

Ng is also charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and a money-laundering conspiracy, crimes which carry a maximum sentence of decades in prison.

Brodie scheduled a preliminary trial date of May 11, 2020.


© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.