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US prosecutors have announced criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and a fugitive Malaysian financier tied to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. Prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn unveiled the charges on Thursday. One of the bankers, former Goldman partner Tim Leissner, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
He's been ordered to forfeit nearly $44 million. The other Goldman banker, Roger Ng, has been arrested in Malaysia and is expected to be extradited to the US. Financier Jho Low is still at large, although, Malaysian authorities have issued an arrest warrant. Prosecutors say Low didn't have a formal position with the fund.
Instead, acting as a middleman for many 1MDB deals involving Goldman Sachs and others. Prosecutors accuse Low and the two bankers of conspiracy to launder funds linked to 1MDB through the US financial system. A spokesman for Low says he maintains his innocence. The defendants allegedly used the money as bribes to get business for Goldman, while also splashing out on personal purchases like luxury real estate and art.
Prosecutors say Goldman raked in about $600 million in fees for its work with the fund. 1MDB was set up in 2009 by the government of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in order to support development projects. According to the US Justice Department, around $4.5 billion have been misappropriated from 1MDB.
At least six countries are investigating the scandal.