Harry Barclay – London Correspondent

US authorities have brought criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low.

The Department of Justice charges stem from the long-running scandal at Malaysia’s state development fund, 1MDB.

One former Goldman banker admitted to conspiring to launder money and violate a US anti-bribery law, it said.

The other banker has been arrested, while Mr Low remains at large.

These are reportedly the first US criminal charges to surface in the scandal, in which authorities say public officials stole billions from the state fund to buy art, property and other items.

The claims of corruption played a role in the election defeat earlier this year of Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak.

He has since been charged with corruption in Malaysia, claims that he has denied.

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US authorities have also filed civil suits aimed at recovering luxury goods, cash and other items purchased with money from the fund.

In this case, prosecutors say former bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng worked with Mr Low to bribe government officials in Malaysia to win 1MDB business for Goldman.

They worked on three bond transactions that raised $6.5bn for the fund.

The money was supposed to support development projects, but the three men helped to distribute more than $2.7bn in the form of bribes and kickbacks, prosecutors say.

Mr Low, who was charged earlier in Malaysia, has repeatedly declared his innocence. He has called the Malaysian charges political.

Tim Leissner, who pleaded guilty, has been ordered to forfeit $43.7m.

He had served as the firm’s South East Asia chairman and a participating managing director. He left Goldman in February 2016.

Mr Ng was a managing director at Goldman until his departure in May 2014.

Goldman Sachs, which earned $600m in fees stemming from its work with 1MDB, has in the past denied wrongdoing and said it was co-operating with the investigation.

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