June 29, 2022

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U.S. government to jury in 1MDB trial: Convict even if you don’t believe our star witness.

2 min read

A federal prosecutor told jurors on Monday that they had received enough evidence to convict a former Goldman Sachs banker for his role in one of the biggest international money laundering and bribery schemes even without the testimony of the government’s star witness.

“You already know the defendant is guilty from other evidence in the case,” Alixandra E. Smith, an assistant U.S. attorney, said during the government’s closing argument in the trial of Roger Ng in federal court in Brooklyn.

Mr. Ng is accused of receiving $35 million in illegal kickbacks from a scheme to steal billions of dollars from the once-big Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.

Over the course of the trial, Tim Leissner, a former Goldman partner who pleaded guilty and became the government’s star witness, emerged as a controversial figure, and it is not surprising federal prosecutors want the jury to not focus too much on his testimony.

During six days of a grueling cross-examination he admitted to lying a lot in life. He was forced to admit to initially lying to federal agents, to his fellow partners at Goldman and to his wives and girlfriends.

But Ms. Smith said Mr. Leissner did not lie when he testified in federal court in Brooklyn to the key facts of the scheme, which was funded by a series of bond offerings that Goldman arranged for the 1MDB fund.

When it was time for Mr. Ng’s lawyer to present his closing arguments, he did not waste time calling out Mr. Leissner. The lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said Mr. Leissner was a man who “will lie if it suits his interest.” He said that, despite what the prosecution had said, without Mr. Leissner’s testimony the government could not connect Mr. Ng to the conspiracy to steal billions from the 1MDB fund.

“There is no evidence that connects Roger,” Mr. Agnifilo said. “There is not a dirty email. Not a bad text message.”

By contrast, Mr. Agnifilo said, the jury had seen text messages in which Mr. Leissner was instructed on whom…

Matthew Goldstein

2022-04-04 18:12:25

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