Ex-Goldman banker’s wife testifies in husband’s defense at 1MDB trial

3 mins read
Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng arrives for his criminal trial, at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The wife of former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng on Monday testified in her husband’s defense at a U.S. trial over the looting of hundreds of millions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund between 2009 and 2014.

Ng, Goldman’s former chief for Malaysia, is charged with conspiring to launder money and violate an anti-corruption law. Prosecutors say he helped his former boss Tim Leissner embezzle money from 1MDB, launder the proceeds and bribe officials to win business for Goldman.

Ng, 49, has pleaded not guilty. He argues that some $35 million he received from Leissner, which prosecutors characterize as kickbacks from the scheme, was actually the proceeds of a legitimate business venture between the two men’s wives.

Ng’s wife, Hwee Bin Lim, testified on Monday that shortly after Ng began working for Leissner in the mid-2000s, she invested 48 million yuan – about $6 million at the time – at a Chinese company owned by the family of Leissner’s wife, Judy Chan.

Lim’s testimony came on the second day of the defense’s case in the trial, which began in early February.

Lim said she and Chan had a falling out in 2011, and Chan told her to divest her share, which had appreciated substantially. In 2012, Chan told her she was ready to transfer $26 million, Lim testified.

When asked by Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo if the money Chan said she would send to Lim came from 1MDB, Lim replied, “Not at all.”

“It had to come from Judy and her family,” Lim said.

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A lawyer for Chan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Leissner, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to similar charges, testified in February that the investment Lim made in Chan’s Chinese business was a “cover story” that he and Ng concocted to explain the kickback payment so that the banks processing the funds would not grow suspicious.

The charges stem from one of the biggest financial scandals in history, in which U.S. prosecutors say $4.5 billion of the $6.5 billion Goldman raised for 1MDB was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks.

Goldman in 2020 paid a nearly $3 billion fine and arranged for its Malaysian unit to plead guilty in U.S. court.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Aurora Ellis)

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