Mr Low has previously denied charges filed in Malaysia, adding that it would be "impossible" for him to receive a fair trial there. "Low held no formal position at 1MDB, nor was he ever employed by Goldman Sachs, or the Governments of Malaysia or Abu Dhabi", Low's spokesman said. Also charged was Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whom prosecutors have depicted as being a mastermind of a scheme to misappropriate money from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. About $700 million landed in Najib's bank account, though he denies any wrongdoing. Between 2009 and 2014, top executives and associates of Najib looted $4.5 billion from the fund, laundering it through the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and other countries, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Goldman has placed its former co-head of Asia investment banking, Andrea Vella, on leave over his role in the firm's involvement with the case, pending a review of allegations, according to a person familiar with the decision.
The set of charges represent the first criminal prosecutions in the USA arising from the epic corruption scandal at the state investment fund known as 1MDB.
The money was supposed to support development projects, but prosecutors say the three men "conspired to launder" more than $2.7bn through the USA financial system, and used this money to pay bribes and "for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives".
Leissner's attorney did not return messages seeking comment.
Prosecutors in the United States and elsewhere believe that a group of people with close ties to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak stole from the fund to buy paintings, yachts, real estate and even investment stakes in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street. Funds from 1MDB that were raised for development projects were used to pay for luxury real estate, art, lavish parties and more, USA investigators say.
The indictment accuses Leissner and Ng and of using Low's connections to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to "retain business from 1MDB for [Goldman Sachs] through the promise and payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes", including three bond transactions that raised about $6.5 billion for the 1MDB fund between 2012 and 2013. Among its services, it helped raise $6.5 billion for the fund and earned nearly $600 million in fees for the bond issuance. The new Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has moved quickly to investigate the alleged theft of billions of dollars from the investment fund, which was created under Mr. Najib. Numerous charges - multiple counts of corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust - are linked to 1MDB.
The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib.