Ex-Malaysia PM Najib seeks Goldman, Leissner 1MDB papers

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is asking a US court to let his lawyers seek documents and testimony from Goldman Sachs Group Inc to help in his defence against criminal charges in Malaysia over the 1MDB scandal.

In a filing on Tuesday (Nov 17) in federal court in Manhattan, Najib requested a court order that would permit his attorneys to serve subpoenas on the company and its former South-east Asia chair, Tim Leissner.

Leissner has pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, and admitted to bribing officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to get bond deals for the bank.

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay more than US$5 billion (S$6.71 billion), including a record US$2.3 billion fine in the US, and enter its first-ever guilty plea for its role in the scandal.

Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Najib’s request. Mr Henry Mazurek, a lawyer for Leissner, declined to comment on the filing.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Malaysia in July in connection with the scandal but is out on bail and is appealing his conviction.

In his request, he said Goldman and Leissner probably have documents or testimony showing that officials of 1MDB were involved in the scheme to defraud the state-owned investment fund, received kickbacks or bribes and are now falsely implicating him to avoid responsibility.

“Leissner and his co-conspirators took many steps to shroud the money trail,” Najib said in court papers.

He said he was misled about the origin of funds that went into his account and believed they were political donations by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

“This effort spanned continents and multiple jurisdictions, included the deployment of an array of shell companies, and involved numerous individuals,” he said.

The US Justice Department says that some US$2.7 billion of the US$6.5 billion Goldman Sachs helped raised for 1MDB was stolen by people connected to Najib and diverted for bribes, a luxury yacht, fine art and the like.

Among those charged is a Malaysian financier known as Jho Low, the suspected mastermind of the fraud, who has denied wrongdoing and remains at large.

Leissner on Tuesday had his parents assigned to guarantee his US$20 million bond. He is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced in January.