How a Flamboyant Intermediary Snarled Goldman Sachs in the 1MDB Scandal

Sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, commonly referred to as 1MDB, was allegedly plundered of billions by Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, along with other foreign officials and hangers-on. At the center of the swirling scandal is a friend of former Prime Minister Najib’s family who acted as an intermediary and fixer on several 1MDB-related transactions – Low Taek Jho or “Jho Low” as he was known in the media. Low worked with Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chairman at Goldman Sachs, and Ng Chong Hwa (a.k.a. Roger Ng), a managing director at the bank, on setting up 1MDB as well as on three bond offerings. Newly available court papers offer significantly more information about the allegations against Low, Leissner and Ng than was previously in the public domain, and indicate that other criminal prosecutions may be coming down the pike. We look at the facts of the case and some of the ways Goldman’s compliance program failed to prevent the corruption. See “High- and Low-Tech Innovations to Overcome Compliance Training’s Drawbacks in the Financial Industry” (Jan. 10, 2018).

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