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Defense Wins Crucial Pause In Trial Of Former Goldman Banker ‘Scapegoated’ In 1MDB Scandal

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Federal prosecutors' attempt to scapegoat former Goldman banker Roger Ng for the Goldman's massive role in the 1MDB scandal isn't going well as they had hoped.

As any voir dire attorney would tell you, jurors tend to discriminate against big banks. But in this case, this prejudice is exaberated by the fact that Goldman has already pleaded guilty itself and forked over nearly $4 billion to the Malaysian government at the DoJ's behest. What's more, the bank's chief banker on the deal, the German-born Tim Leissner, has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a deal to testify. But the testimony has been nothing less than scathing, with the defense doing a great job of discrediting Leissner and defending Ng as a scapegoat, with no immunity deal to protect him.

Recently, Ng Defense Attorney Marc Agnifilo successfully called for a pause before the defense will question Leissner, due to claims, acknowledged by the prosecution, that some 15K+ documents had been withheld from the defense during discovery.

Agnifilo has also said he would likely push for a mistrial. But as the prosecution's questioning of its star witness continued, another key player familiar to readers of "Billion Dollar Whale" – a book written on the scandal by two WSJ journalists – was named on Thursday.

The individual was Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a former deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and then-chairman of Ipic, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund that was a key player in the 1MDB scandal (and was ultimately left holding the bag for more than a billion dollars, from which it was ultimately defrauded).

Sheik Mansour, an owner of English soccer club Manchester City, wasn't indicted,  but was repeatedly named in the federal case. According to Leissner, he was told by 1MDB mastermind Jho Low that the Sheik must be bribed by the bank, according to Bloomberg.

Leissner, 52, the U.S. government’s star witness in its case against ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng, provided a description of the payment system Wednesday for a jury in Brooklyn, New York. Leissner told of a meeting at which Jho Low, the alleged architect of the massive fraud, spelled out who he said needed to be paid off for approval to raise and spend billions of dollars for Malaysia’s wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

On the list were officials from Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, Leissner testified, including Malaysia’s then-prime minister, Najib Razak, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Low “said the sheikh would not get out of bed for less than $100 million,” Leissner told the jury.

Eventually, Low used his ability to bring in the Sheik to "guarantee" the 1MDB debt that Goldman was taking on as part of its deal.

The meeting Leissner described while on the stand took place at Low’s home in the Mayfair section of London in 2012, not long before Goldman greenlighted work on 1MDB and raised $1.75 billion for the fund, Leissner testified

Leissner also admitted that he allowed a former lover to blackmail him over his involvement in 1MDB, and he eventually bought her a $10 million home, per Bloomberg.

Asked by prosecutor Drew Rolle about his extramarital affairs, Leissner cited several, including one with Rohana Rozhan, former chief executive officer of media company Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd. The relationship lasted from 2003 to 2013, he told the jury.

Rolle asked Leissner whether he had ever given Rozhan any money he received from his 1MDB work. Leissner said he had — and that he bought her a $10 million home in London in 2013 after she’d threatened to expose his involvement with 1MDB.

“Ms. Rozhan was very upset that I was ending our relationship to be with my future wife, with Kimora,” Leissner testified, referring to his wife Kimora Lee Simmons. “If I didn’t buy her a house, she would tell the authorities about my involvement in the 1MDB scandal. She was threatening to expose me. At the time, 2013, I was very fearful of that.”

What's more, the defense also claims that some of the evidence that was withheld helps to corroborate its case that Ng never accepted a "bribe" from Leissner via his wife.

“In the middle of the night we got a letter from the government describing by its own admission an ‘inexcusable’ discovery disclosure,” an angry Agnifilo told U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. He added that he had complained for at least two and a half years about the government’s “slow-walking” evidence he needs to defend his client.

“The government absolutely did not live up to its obligation,” Agnifilo said. “This is a categorically serious failure. This is unforgivable."

In a letter filed with the court, prosecutors said the government failed to disclose the evidence related to Leissner, who was Ng’s boss at Goldman. Leissner is crucial to the government’s argument that Ng conspired with him, while Ng’s lawyers said Wednesday that the documents support their argument that Ng played no role in the scheme.

The error “is inexcusable,” prosecutor Alixandra Smith said in the letter.

Earlier in the trial, Agnifilo has alleged that Leissner, the government's star witness against Ng, was a "hard partyer" who twice engaged in bigamy – that is, he twice was married to two women at the same time (though it's not exactly clear to whom the defense was referring as far as Leissner's alleged "wives" are concerned).

Denouncing Leissner as a "mini version of Low," Agnifilo claimed the former banker sought out money to to buy private planes, yachts and homes in Beverly Hills, because he wanted to live "like a Rich guy" after marrying Kimora Lee Simomons, the ex-wife of hip hop mogul Russell Simomons. Details in the book "Billion Dollar Whale" also accused Leissner of purchasing a PhD from a "diploma mill" and using it to pad his resume.

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