To: Interested Parties
From: Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO
(Media Contact: Madeline Tucker, Press Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: March 8, 2023, sentencing on March 9, 2023
Re: Former Goldman Sachs Partner Roger Ng to Face Sentencing for 1MDB Crimes
Of the 30 officers and executives at Goldman Sachs involved in enabling the looting and global money-laundering crime spree of the Malaysia development fund known as 1MDB–including the now current CEO David Solomon–only one relatively junior partner, Roger Ng, was criminally charged, tried, and convicted. He will be sentenced on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
1MDB (1 Malaysia Development Berhad) was a Malaysian government owned and controlled investment fund. In less than a year, Goldman Sachs placed about $6.5 billion in bonds for the fund, pocketing the shocking amount of $600 million in fees. The money from Goldman’s bond offerings was used to illegally enrich many, corrupt an election, and undermine democracy in Malaysia. It effectively turned 1MDB into a criminal enterprise and enabled “kleptocracy at its worst,” with billions of dollars looted. Without the money from the Goldman bond offerings, none of that would have been possible, as detailed in this Report.
Although the scandal has been called “one of the greatest financial heists in history,” Ng was the only Goldman person tried. The corrupt Goldman partner who was lead on the 1MDB relationship, Tim Leissner, was Ng’s boss. He pleaded guilty and was the government’s star witness against Ng. While the government usually flips criminals, uses them to move up the corporate chain of command, and testify against their superiors, very unusually in this case they flipped Leissner and used him to move down the chain of command, testifying against his subordinate.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs, an egregious recidivist lawbreaker for decades (as detailed here and here), got a sweetheart deal from the Department of Justice for its many crimes in connection with 1MDB, including ignoring numerous red flags that should have alerted Goldman to the lawbreaking. That shocking miscarriage of justice is detailed here. If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the playbook Goldman used to avoid meaningful punishment for its outrageous “built to blow up” Abacus CDO, which shorted the subprime housing market in 2008, inflicting catastrophic pain across the US. Goldman pocketed tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in fees in those CDO deals but got away with laughably pathetic settlement years later. However, the SEC went after the lowly “Fabulous Fab” (1 of 5,000 Goldman Vice Presidents), who was charged, tried, and found guilty by a jury, largely because he colorfully bragged to his girlfriend in emails.
DOJ’s and the SEC’s highly selective prosecution of going after the small fish while letting the Wall Street whales get away only reaffirms the widespread belief if not reality on Wall Street that crime pays. The 1MDB case shows that, even a global crime spree will have minimal consequences for the bank and virtually none for executives, officers or senior bankers. Once again, only the most junior people hammered by prosecutors and regulators.
Roger Ng now faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. He spent six months in a Malaysian prison prior to coming to the US, purportedly in horrific conditions. He and his lawyers are asking for the court to sentence him to that time served. The government is asking for a sentence of 15 years. The court is expected to sentence Ng on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Meanwhile, Goldman and Wall Street’s other too-big-to-fail banks continue to pocket fortunes year after year, unpunished and undeterred.
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.org.