Jhlo Low, ex-Goldman bankers accused of laundering billions in stolen funds

AFP pic

AFP pic

Fugitive financier Jho Low, wanted for his role in the multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), contacted the top adviser to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last week to seek immunity, a broadcaster reported on Wednesday (Oct 31).

While U.S. prosecutors have previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds, these are the first criminal charges the Justice Department has brought against individuals in the case under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law targeting official bribery overseas.

Charges under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act have also been filed against Jho Low and his father Tan Sri Larry Low at the Sessions Court in Putrajaya last August, relating to the movement of several hundred million U.S. dollars in the BSI Bank in Singapore.

Goldman acted as the primary bond underwriter for the fund.

The unidentified co-conspirator is Andrea Vella, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

About $4bn disappeared from the fund and the claims of corruption led to Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, being charged with corruption, charges he has denied. The justice department's kleptocracy asset recovery initiative has already filed civil charges aimed at seizing assets allegedly bought with embezzled 1MDB funds, including a $39m mansion in the Los Angeles hills and a $30m penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park.

RBI autonomy essential, says finance ministry amid rift with central bank
Arguing against the Centre's proposal, the RBI had said, "The digital payments have made good and steady progress". As per a report by Economic times, in recent weeks, separate letters have been sent to RBI Governor Urijit Patel.

Ng was arrested yesterday in Malaysia by his officers to assist the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in its investigations, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh told The Star.

Roger Ng, the other charged former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia, prosecutors said.

The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib. Working with the FBI, Indonesian authorities seized Low's $250 million luxury yacht Equanimity off Bali in February and Malaysia's government is now auctioning it. The government tracked down his latest location several days ago, and is seeking cooperation from a foreign country to bring him back to Malaysia to face charges related to 1MDB, he said.

Prosecutors alleged bribes and kickbacks were paid in connection with Goldman's bond offerings on 1MDB's behalf, which generated some US$600 million in fees for the bank. When the banks questioned large money transfers, the conspirators used fake business documents to address their concerns, the department says. A lawyer for Leissner was unavailable for comment when NPR phoned.

The BBC has contacted Goldman Sachs for comment.

Ng was formerly managing director at 1MDB. It was not immediately clear who is representing Ng. Such payments were "known to Ng, Leissner and other employees" of the bank, according to prosecutors.

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