A billion-dollar transfer was approved by the former governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz to leave Malaysia immediately
New York – A key witness of the 1MDB bribery trial in the US against Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng has reportedly testified that the husband of the former Malaysian Central Bank (BNM) Governor was bribed to get an unprecedented approval of money transfer.
The witness, Tim Leissner, who was Goldman’s former Southeast Asia operations chairman said Roger had told him that the then BNM governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz had approved a billion-dollar transaction to leave Malaysia.
Leissner, 52 told this on Tuesday (22 Feb) when examined by Prosecutor Drew Rolle.
Rolle: “Did you ever discuss issues at PetroSaudi and 1MDB?”
Rolle: “Who did you discuss that with?”
Leissner: “Roger. When it became known that 1MDB had made that US$1 billion investment, Roger relayed back to me what he had heard about how that money was invested.”
“You have to understand in 2009 Malaysia still had capital controls in place, which would require an investment of that size to be approved by Bank Negara in terms of the money leaving the country,” Leissner said.
When questioned further by Rolle on who had to approve money leaving the country of Malaysia back then Leissner replied: ”An institution called Bank Negara. It is the central bank of Malaysia. The Federal Reserve equivalent in Malaysia. They would have to approve a billion dollars leaving Malaysia basically.
“Roger reported back to me was that he had heard that the money had left overnight, the country. A billion dollars was wired overnight to Malaysia to the joint venture and that it had been done because the husband of the then Governor Zeti at Bank Negara had received a bribe to make that happen.
“So, overnight that money was transferred, which was unprecedented at that time. No approval was obtained that quickly with Bank Negara,” Leissner testified.
Leissner was testifying against Former Goldman Sachs’ head of investment banking in Malaysia, Roger Ng who is charged in Brooklyn federal court with conspiring to launder money and to violate an anti-bribery law.
The trial which started on 16 February could go on for up to six weeks.
Last November, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that at least RM65 million in 1MDB-linked funds recovered from Singapore were held by a company belonging to Zeti’s husband, Tawfiq Ayman.
Zeti’s husband and two sons have admitted to knowing about the money in statutory declarations (SDs) signed in March last year.
The money was in the accounts of Cutting Edge Industries in Singapore and the three admitted to being the beneficial owners of the accounts.