An ex-Goldman Sachs banker will stand trial in Malaysia in April over the 1MDB scandal after he returns from the U.S. where he has also been charged, an official said Wednesday.
Billions of dollars were stolen from Malaysian state fund 1MDB in a fraud allegedly involving former prime minister Najib Razak and his cronies, and spent on everything from high-end real estate to a luxury super-yacht.
The scandal has been described as one of the biggest financial scams in history.
Goldman’s role is under scrutiny as the Wall Street bank helped arrange $6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB, and Malaysian authorities say huge sums were stolen in the process.
Ng Chong Hwa, a Malaysian former managing director at the bank, has been charged in the U.S. and Malaysia over the scandal.
He was extradited in May from Malaysia to the U.S. – which is investigating the controversy as money was laundered through the American financial system – and pleaded not guilty to bribery and other charges.
Malaysia had agreed to a “temporary surrender” of the ex-banker, also known as Roger Ng, for 10 months to allow the U.S. case to proceed and he will return to his home country in March, prosecutor Zaki Asyraf Zubir told AFP.
“The prosecution (sought) trial dates in April,” and the defense agreed, he added.
Ng has also pleaded not guilty to 1MDB-linked charges in Malaysia.
Filings on the Malaysian courts website showed dates set for Ng’s case from April 13 to 15.
Malaysia is seeking $7.5 billion in damages from the Wall Street titan over its role in the scandal.
Last year prosecutors filed charges against three subsidiaries of the bank as well as Ng and another ex-employee over 1MDB. In August charges were brought against 17 current and former executives.
The bank has vowed to fight the charges, saying any misconduct was on the part of rogue, individual employees.
Another former Goldman executive, Tim Leissner, has already pled guilty to 1MDB related charges in the U.S. He has also cast doubt on Goldman’s defense, saying the scheme was part of the “culture” at the investment bank.
The scandal played a major role in Najib losing power last year and he has since been arrested and put on trial. Next week, a judge will deliver a key ruling which will determine whether his first 1MDB-linked trial proceeds.
Another central player in scandal, Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, remains an international fugitive. Low, a Malaysian businessman, is believed to have played a key role in directing the scheme and used his personal winnings to party with Holywood superstars and, ironically, even help finance the major film, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”