By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Jury selection began on Monday in the U.S. corruption trial of a former Goldman Sachs banker accused of helping to launder hundreds of millions of dollars looted from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund and bribing officials to win business.
Roger Ng, Goldman’s former head of investment banking in Malaysia, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of conspiracy to launder money and to violate an anti-bribery law.
Goldman helped sell $6.5 billion of bonds for 1MDB, a fund former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak launched to spur economic development.
Authorities said fund officials and accomplices looted some of the money to spend on luxuries, while Goldman bankers paid more than $1.6 billion in bribes to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi for 1MDB business.
Goldman agreed https://www.reuters.com/article/goldmansachs-1mdb-settlement/goldman-to-pay-3-billion-claw-back-executive-pay-over-role-in-1mdb-corruption-scandal-idUSKBN2772E3 in 2020 to pay $2.9 billion in penalties and have a Malaysian unit admit criminal wrongdoing to settle probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and other authorities into its role in 1MDB.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie quizzed dozens of potential jurors in Brooklyn federal court about ties they might have to individuals or entities who may be mentioned at the trial, and whether they could be fair and impartial.
Several potential jurors said they had strong negative opinions about banks, though none was immediately dismissed.
One prospective juror said Goldman had been his wealth manager since 2007, and another said he worked in technology for Goldman for seven years before leaving in 2017.
Another potential juror said he previously worked in investment banking at Barclays, and that the 1MDB case had been used in his anti-money laundering training.
Neither of these three jurors were immediately dismissed.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 14.
Ng was arrested in Malaysia in November 2018 and extradited six months later.
Tim Leissner, another former Goldman banker, pleaded guilty https://www.reuters.com/article/us-goldman-sachs-charges-1mdb/u-s-charges-financier-former-goldman-bankers-for-1mdb-idUSKCN1N6537 in 2018 over his role in the scandal. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York;Editing by Noeleen Walder and Richard Chang)