U.S. charges former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

Men walk past a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund's flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday unveiled criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs Inc bankers and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho tied to the Malaysia 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal.

Prosecutors announced that Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and agreed to forfeit $43.7 million.

Roger Ng, the other charged former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia, prosecutors said.

The third person, the financier popularly known as Jho Low, remains at large.

Goldman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The investment bank, which generated about $600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB, has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities.

An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, the U.S. Justice Department has alleged.

While U.S. prosecutors have previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds, these are the first criminal charges the Justice Department has brought against individuals in the case.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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