Wednesday , August 10 2022

The US is charging Malaysian financiers with a multibillion dollar scheme



VASHINGTON (AP) – The Department of Justice announced on Thursday an indictment against Malaysian financiers and two former Goldman Sachs bankers accused of laundering money and bribes that set aside billions of dollars from a Malaysian investment fund created to encourage economic development projects in that country.

The indictment for three charges has raised the indictment of Lov Taek Jho, also known as Jho Lov, for misusing money from the state fund and using bribes and for refusing foreign officials to pay for luxury real estate, art and jewelry in the United States and to help finance Hollywood films , including "Wolf from Wall Street".

The defendant was also former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, who pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to violate bribery laws. Another former bank official, Ng Chong Hwa, 51, also known as Roger Ng, was arrested on Thursday in Malaysia and charged with circumvention of internal accounting controls, prosecutors said.

Lawyer Leissner did not return the message to request comments. It was not clear whether Ng had a lawyer.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs, charged in the indictment, raised about $ 6.5 billion through bond bonds, says the firm "continues to work with all the authorities investigating this matter."

Police in Malaysia said in July that Nizak had left Macao to an unknown destination. Before they faced criminal charges, Lov became famous in clubs in New York and Los Angeles. In 2012, he threw a lavish 31 birthday bash, attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities that Wall Street Journal called "the most beautiful parties (Las Vegas) ever seen."

The low, who remained at large, issued a statement through a spokesman guarding his innocence.

"Mr Lov simply asks the public to have an open attitude regarding this case until a testimony comes up, which he believes will condemn him," the statement said.

Leissner acknowledged that he paid millions of dollars of bribes and compensation to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, according to court data. He was ordered to seize $ 43.7 million as guilty for guilt.

The set of charges is the first criminal prosecution in the United States that arises from an epic corruption scandal in a state-owned investment fund known as 1MDB. The Department of Justice in 2016 launched a $ 1 billion recovery that was said to have been stolen, filed a civil complaint seeking property seizure, including the manhattan penthouse, the Beverly Hills Monastery, the luxury jet and pictures of Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.

In a speech last year in Washington, US State Prosecutor Jeff Sessions has condemned the scandal as "clapptocracy in the worst case." The stolen assets were used for "splendid spending," the general attorney said, including a $ 265-million yacht and $ 100 million investment in the EMI music label.

"In total, 1MDB officials have allegedly washed more than $ 4.5 billion in assets through a complex network of opaque transactions and fraudulent bank account companies in countries from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States," Sessions said.

The Fund, 1Malaisia ​​Development Berhad, was founded by then Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to promote economic development. It relied above all on debts to finance investments and economic development projects, and was in charge of competent Malaysian government officials, according to court data.

Najib presided over his advisory committee and as a finance minister vetoed the authority over his activities. Low, friend of Najib's son Riza Aziz, did not play an official role in 1MDB, but had a significant impact on his business and was in frequent contact with Najib, the US authorities said.

"As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Lov did not have an official position on the 1MDB, nor was he ever employed by Goldman Sachs, nor by the governments of Malaysia or Abu Dhabi," said Lov.

The scandal already had major political consequences in Malaysia, where Najib in 2015 dismissed its chief prosecutor and deputy prime minister over requests for answers on 1MDB. The parliamentary inquiry revealed many irregularities, but did not have a mandate to prosecute.

Former Mahathir Mohamad leader, alarmed by the scandal, emerged from the pension and the opposition joined in the national elections, which led to the expulsion of Najib in May.

Najib and his former chief of the treasury were charged last week for a criminal offense of trust from 6.64 billion ringgit ($ 1.6 billion), charges that topped 32 earlier corruption cases, trust and money laundering Najib faces in connection with the 1MDB scandal .

Najib and Mohammad Irvan Serigar Abdullah, the former secretary general of the treasurer, pleaded not guilty of misuse of government funds in the period from December 2016 to December 2017. The police confiscated hundreds of luxury bags, jewelery and cash – valued at more than $ 266 million – apartments linked to the Najib family.

Najiba's lawyer, Shafi Abdullah, dismissed the latest charges as "stupid".


Mustian reported from New York.

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