It is disheartening to see that the one person who has ended up facing trial over 1MDB in the USA from Goldman Sachs is the sole Malaysian and practically the lowliest person involved at the bank. He faces 20 years if found guilty of the fraud, whilst his bonus rich multi-millionaire bosses have either taken their retirement or partied their way out of trouble.
Yes, Ng was a link man, known to be ‘politically well connected‘ in Malaysia. Having been hired from Deutsche Bank it was he who plainly provided crucial contacts for the German/American banker Tim Leissner as he sought to build relations with the corrupted political elite in Malaysia to pull his preposterous deals.
However, if Ng made an alleged $35 million from the $5 billion theft then his immediate boss made far more, creaming at least $100 million in backhanders according to the indictments Leissner has already pled guilty to. Yet it is Leissner who has stayed free in return, it would seem, for agreeing to give evidence against Ng at this trial.
If Ng is the fall guy, which is his contention, then he clearly will not be the first to claim so in connection with this bank and in the history of prosecutions for white collar crime on Wall Street. He may or may not be guilty of a knowing part in this conspiracy, which the jury will decide, but it is clear that as a lowly operator in far flung Malaysia it is inconceivable he could have pulled off this outrage on his own.
Goldman Sachs signed this deal at the very top following a meeting in New York between its CEO, Najib and Jho Low. Leissner and Ng were the local agents but between themselves and the decision to sign off on the $6.5 billion dollars worth of loans was an entire banking structure of compliance and a hierarchy of supposed oversight.
The best insight into how every alleged due diligence stage and departments worth of checkers and scrutinisers were swept aside, including the very top officer of the bank in Asia allegedly squeezed from his post, can be gained from reading the shareholder complaint lodged against the bank in 2019.
Despite warnings and cautions at every stage and glaring red flags against a government controlled company that was pressing to raise bond after bond for vague projects that were barely embarked on before more money was being required, the big boys at the top of Goldman ignored it all and went for the massive (and suspicious) profit margins this cosy un-tendered arrangement offered.
The bank itself gained over $600 million in fees on top of the ludicrous rates of interest that were being charged. And whilst Leissner and Ng plucked backhanders directly from the borrowed money that was then immediately channelled into blatantly bogus off-shore companies and stolen, the rest of the Goldman hierarchy divided the loot in the form of record bonuses from the outrageous commission which spelt criminal intent plainly for all to see.
Yet, now that the facts have been laid bare for all to see and the Prime Minister who authorised it all found guilty, the only banker to find himself up for trial is the lowly Roger Ng.
It has cost Goldman Sach’s shareholders nearly $9 billion in total fines, but in return the US authorities have suspended prosecutions against the bank and the Malaysian coup government has dropped the cases brought by its elected predecessor against 17 of the banks employees (many of whom had received millions in bonuses in places like London for their role in ‘overseeing’ the record deal).
Having once again caused billions of dollars worth of damage to other people’s pension funds, savings and the overall economy, thanks to their disgraceful private greed these self-proclaimed ‘Masters of the Universe’ (otherwise to be known as cowboy conmen) have been given a criminal pass once more.
Roger Ng will be challenged to prove himself a hero or a good guy in this drama (which is his defence). However it is hard not to conclude that his is the show trial to placate the fury over yet another fraudulent banking scam on the part of America’s most powerful bank ending with the lot of them getting off scot free.
Ng has waited for two years to have his moment in court on the other hand. He may have been at the bottom of the pile in this hierarchy of white collar corruption, but he will know exactly what was going on. Perhaps, he will decide that if he is to take the rap it is time to let the world know just how high this scandal went and who was responsible for over-ruling the oversight and managers who cautioned against doing deals with Najib and Jho Low.
Between them, Leissner and Ng could shake the foundations of a bank that deserves nothing less.