As highlighted in this recent post, former Goldman Sachs managing director Roger Ng (found guilty at trial in 2022 of FCPA and related charges for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials in connection with Malaysia’s state-owned and state-controlled investment development company) is seeking a “time served” sentence.
Sentencing is set for later this week and Judge Margo Brodie (E.D.N.Y.) will have quite the range to ponder as the DOJ is seeking a 15 year sentence for Ng.
A recent sentencing submission states in summary fashion:
“The defendant Roger Ng played a critical role in a massive bribery and money laundering scheme that stole billions of dollars intended for infrastructure and economic projects to aid the Malaysian people, and used it instead to pay bribes to at least a dozen corrupt government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, as well as to line the pockets of the defendant and others who masterminded the scheme. As overwhelmingly proven at trial, the defendant—a well-educated, sophisticated investment banker who was a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs—acted to execute his part in the scheme knowingly and deliberately, profited handsomely by taking more than $35 million for himself and carefully covered his tracks. His participation in a crime so brazen and audacious that defense counsel opened his trial defense by calling it “one of the biggest financial crimes in the history of the world” was a choice, and it warrants substantial and meaningful punishment.
To ensure that the scheme would succeed, the defendant conspired with international fixer Jho Low and fellow Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner to structure lucrative, billion-dollar bond deals for 1MDB, a company owned and controlled by the Malaysian government, which were intended to raise money for projects to develop Malaysia’s economy. The defendant’s role was to give the deals the veneer of legitimacy, so that no one would suspect that the money raised would go not to economic projects in Malaysia but instead to pay off government officials and to provide massive kickbacks. The defendant was also instrumental in getting Goldman to approve the deals by concealing from Goldman’s internal committees their true nature so that those committees would authorize them. And once the deals were complete, and the defendant received what he had been promised for helping to execute the scheme—kickbacks totaling more than $35 million—he concealed both his illegal profits and his participation in the scheme by funneling the kickbacks to a shell company and laundering them through a series of bank accounts in the names of his wife and mother-in-law, deleting email accounts linking him to his crimes and lying repeatedly to law enforcement in two countries about his knowledge of the scheme itself and the true source of those funds.
At the time that the defendant committed these crimes, he was already making more than a million of dollars a year at Goldman Sachs. He was motivated by the glory of bringing in the biggest deals that Goldman had ever done in Asia, by the prospect of advancing within the bank and by pure greed—the chance to increase his wealth exponentially. The $35 million he ultimately reaped is an almost incomprehensible amount of money for one person. And truly, the numbers in this case are staggering: more than a billion dollars in bribes paid to a dozen corrupt government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, and more than a billion dollars in kickbacks to the defendant, Leissner, Low and others. That’s because the money was supposed to go to help the people of Malaysia on a national level: to build roads, to improve the country’s power grids, and to better their lives. Instead, the defendant his co-conspirators stole that money and enabled the corruption of officials in two countries, which caused real and lasting harm far beyond the dollars that were stolen. Foreign corruption undermines the public’s confidence in international markets and institutions, it destroys people’s faith in their leaders and it is deeply unfair to everybody else who plays by the rules. And when, as here, foreign corruption is undertaken by the defendant and others working for an American bank operating overseas, it impacts the confidence and trust in American businesses worldwide.
The defendant must be held to account for these serious crimes. His sentence must also send a message to other professionals in the financial world who are tempted to gain an advantage or to win business through cheating and bribery. But the defendant’s sentencing memorandum seeks to minimize his conduct and defy the jury’s verdict. As the defendant would tell it, Leissner and Low are the true criminals; the defendant was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, a low-level functionary unaware of the massive scheme unfolding with his assistance; and ultimately, as the person with the “least authority, influence and power of virtually everyone involved,” the only true victim of the crimes. (Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum, ECF No. 226 (“Def. Mem.”) at 68). Based on this premise, and the suggestion that he has “already been punished” (id. at 2), the defendant takes the extraordinary step of seeking a time served sentence, equivalent to six months, despite an effective Guidelines term of 360 months’ imprisonment—that is, an approximately 98% reduction in his sentence.
The defendant is not entitled to the truly extraordinary sentence that he seeks. The defendant was proven guilty at trial, where the evidence showed that he was not a victim. He was a deeply corrupt banker, who carefully cultivated a relationship with Low over many years, who repeatedly lied to Goldman, violated its rules and discussed paying bribes in exchange for business with Low and Leissner long before participating in his crimes of conviction. He committed his crimes knowingly and deliberately over several years. He was convicted because of the actions he chose to take.
The defendant faces a Guidelines term of life and an effective Guidelines term of 360 months’ imprisonment. This range appropriately reflects the serious nature of his extensive, deceptive and deliberate criminal conduct. Although the government agrees that a sentence at or near this range is unwarranted in this instance, for the reasons set forth herein, the Court should nonetheless reject the defendant’s extraordinary request to avoid meaningful punishment. Instead, the government urges the Court to sentence the defendant to a substantial term of imprisonment of no less 180 months.”