Top bankers at Goldman Sachs knew that Malaysian businessman Jho Low was involved in deals related to the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund that was robbed of billions of dollars, former Goldman executive Tim Leissner claimed under oath.
Leissner took the stand on Wednesday as the federal government’s star witness in its case against his former subordinate, Roger Ng, who is standing trial for bribery and money laundering.
The estranged husband of former fashion model Kimora Lee Simmons told jurors in Brooklyn federal court that he, Ng, “and our colleagues knew that Jho Low was the key decision maker, so therefore we had to include Jho Low as well” in key discussions tied to the 1MDB dealings.
Leissner testified that he and Ng did not inform the bank’s compliance officials of bribes they paid to get the business, according to Bloomberg. He also testified that compliance officials at the investment giant were not aware of Low’s activities.
Leissner said that “had they known, it would’ve raised red flags and stopped any transaction at Goldman Sachs.”
But Leissner did say that other colleagues at the bank knew of Low’s involvement, including his then-boss, Michael Evans, who headed Goldman’s Asia operations at the time. Evans is currently an executive at Alibaba. The Post has reached out to Alibaba seeking comment.
Goldman Sachs has declined to comment on Leissner’s testimony.
According to Leissner, he and Evans paid a visit to 1MDB executives after Goldman pocketed $220 million in the first bond transaction.
Leissner testified that when Evans thanked the 1MDB CEO, the executive responded: “Don’t thank me. Thank Jho Low.”
“So Mike knew from that moment,” according to Leissner. He testified that before meeting the 1MDB CEO, Evans asked him if Low was involved, “and I lied outright and I said no.”
Leissner also testified that Andrea Vella, who at the time was one of the heads of the investment banking division in Asia, was made aware of bribes and kickbacks.
“I trusted him and he trusted me, and it was one of those things crucial to making transactions happen,” Leissner testified.
He told jurors that he and Ng bribed foreign officials because the prospect of pocketing millions from transactions worth some $6.5 billion was too enticing.
Leissner, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal prosecutors trying their case against Ng in hopes of getting a reduced sentence, said that without the bribes, “these transactions would have never happened.”
Ng, the only Goldman banker to stand trial in relation to the 1MDB scandal, faces up to 30 years in prison on charges of bribery and money laundering.
Low, who is alleged to have pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in the embezzlement scheme, is wanted by authorities in Malaysia. He is believed to have taken refuge in an unknown country.