Former Goldman Sachs Managing Director Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for His Role in Massive Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme
BROOKLYN, NY – Earlier today, Ng Chong Hwa, also known as “Roger Ng,” a citizen of Malaysia and a former Managing Director of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (Goldman Sachs), was sentenced by United States District Judge Margo K. Brodie to 10 years’ imprisonment for conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying more than $1.6 billion in bribes to a dozen government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, and conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing the internal accounting controls of Goldman Sachs. The forfeiture amount will be determined at a later date. In April 2022, Ng was convicted by a federal jury on all counts following a nine-week trial.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Tyler Hatcher, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office (IRS-CI), announced the sentence.
“Roger Ng was a central player in a brazen and audacious scheme that not only victimized the people of Malaysia, but also risked undermining the public’s confidence in governments, markets, businesses and other institutions on a global scale,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Today’s sentence serves as a just punishment for the defendant’s crimes and a warning that there is a significant price to pay for corporate corruption.”
“Today, Roger Ng was sentenced for his role in a massive and egregious bribery and money laundering scheme involving the bribery of high-level foreign officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates and theft of billions of dollars meant to benefit the Malaysian people,” stated Assistant Attorney General Polite. “The Justice Department remains firmly committed to holding accountable individuals who engage in corruption, undermine the rule of law, and abuse our financial system to launder their illicit funds. This sentence sends a strong message to criminals around the world: if you violate our laws, we will bring you to justice.”
“Roger Ng, a former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, played a significant role in a corrupt financial scheme to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB that ultimately victimized the people of Malaysia. Today’s sentence serves as both punishment for Ng’s crimes and a stark reminder to those who endeavor to engage in similar conduct – the FBI and our partners remain vigilant in combatting corruption in all its forms,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“The 1MDB case and the sentencing of Mr. Ng, highlight IRS Criminal Investigation’s enforcement efforts to abolish international bribery schemes. U.S. Financial Institutions have safeguards in place to combat these frauds and Mr. Ng intentionally circumvented these safeguards. This sentence is a testament to what happens when you break US laws to bribe international government officials,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Hatcher. “This case represents a model for domestic and international cooperation in significant cross-border money laundering investigations and we are proud of our domestic and international law enforcement partners in this complex financial investigation.”
1MDB is a Malaysian state-owned and controlled fund created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people.
Ng was employed as a Managing Director by various subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs and acted as an agent and employee of Goldman Sachs from approximately 2005 to May 2014.
Between approximately 2009 and 2014, Ng conspired with others to launder billions of dollars misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1MDB, including funds 1MDB raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions it executed with Goldman Sachs, known as “Project Magnolia,” “Project Maximus,” and “Project Catalyze.” As part of the scheme, Ng and others, including Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia Chairman and participating managing director of Goldman Sachs, and co-defendant Low Taek Jho, a wealthy Malaysian socialite also known as “Jho Low,” conspired to pay more than a billion dollars in bribes to a dozen government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to obtain and retain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs, including the 2012 and 2013 bond deals. They also conspired to launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the U.S. financial system by funding major Hollywood films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and purchasing, among other things, artwork from New York-based Christie’s auction house including a $51 million Jean-Michael Basquiat painting, a $23 million diamond necklace, millions of dollars in Hermes handbags from a dealer based on Long Island, and luxury real estate in Manhattan.
Ng, Leissner, Low and their co-conspirators used Low’s close relationships with high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to obtain and retain business for Goldman Sachs through the promise and payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes. In the course of executing the scheme, Ng conspired with others at Goldman Sachs to circumvent the investment bank’s internal accounting controls. Through its work for 1MDB during that time, Goldman Sachs received approximately $600 million in fees and revenues, while Ng received more than $35 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme. In total, Ng and the other co-conspirators misappropriated more than $2.7 billion from 1MDB.
As proven at trial, Ng spent years cultivating a relationship with Low in order to get him to bring business to Goldman Sachs. In the process of doing so, Ng attempted to onboard Low as a private wealth management client for Goldman Sachs and, when confronted with questions from Goldman Sachs compliance personnel about Low’s government connections and source of wealth, lied about the extent of his relationship with Low; Ng communicated with Low about business opportunities using personal email accounts to avoid detection by Goldman Sachs compliance personnel; and Ng and Leissner attempted to work with Low on a series of side deals that were not disclosed to Goldman Sachs, and in one such potential deal, Ng, Leissner and Low discussed paying a bribe to get a deal completed. With respect to the charged conduct, the trial evidence shows that Ng was instrumental in creating the structure of the bond deals, which enabled the theft of billions of dollars, and in lying to Goldman Sachs about Low’s involvement in the deals and the payment of bribes and kickbacks in order to get the deals approved. To receive his $35 million in kickbacks, Ng set up a shell company in the name of his mother-in-law, and he and his wife used a bank account in the name of that company, in addition to a number of other bank accounts in the names of family members, to conceal and further launder his ill-gotten gains. And when news about the 1MDB scheme started to become public, Ng deleted the contents of four email accounts that had been used in furtherance of the crimes, and lied to law enforcement authorities in Malaysia and Singapore investigating the scheme.
Low remains a fugitive. In August 2018, Leissner pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information charging him with conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by both paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing the internal accounting controls of Goldman Sachs. Leissner has been ordered to forfeit $43 million and shares of stock valued at more than $200 million. Leissner is awaiting sentencing.
In October 2020, Goldman Sachs and Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (GS Malaysia), its Malaysian subsidiary, admitted to conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA in connection with the scheme. Goldman Sachs entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Section (MLARS), and GS Malaysia pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to a one-count criminal information. Goldman Sachs also paid more than $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and elsewhere.
The investigation was jointly conducted by the FBI’s International Corruption Unit and IRS-Criminal Investigation. The government’s criminal case is being handled by the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, MLARS and the Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Alixandra E. Smith, Drew G. Rolle and Dylan Stern, and MLARS Chief Brent Wible and FCPA Chief David Last are prosecuting the case; Jennifer Ambuehl, former Chief of MLARS’ Bank Integrity Unit, also prosecuted the case. Assistant United States Attorneys Tanisha Payne and Brian Morris of the Office’s Asset Recovery Section are handling forfeiture matters. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided critical assistance in this case.
The Department also appreciates the significant cooperation and assistance provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System along with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Department also appreciates the significant assistance provided by the government of Malaysia, including the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysia Police and NCB Interpol Malaysia. The Department also appreciates the significant assistance provided by the Attorney General’s Chambers of Singapore, the Singapore Police Force-Commercial Affairs Division, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, the Judicial Investigating Authority of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Criminal Investigation Department of the Grand-Ducal Police of Luxembourg.
NG CHONG HWA (also known as “Roger Ng”)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-538 (MKB)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney's Office