The U.S. Justice Department announced criminal charges Thursday against a former Goldman Sachs banker and a scandal-plagued Malaysian financier for their alleged involvement in an elaborate bribery scheme.
Low Taek Jho, a former official with the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, and former banker Ng Chong Hwa were charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars from the fund. Low, who was last seen in China, remains at large, the Justice Department said.
Former Goldman Sachs investment banker Tim Leissner has already pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit nearly $44 million, according to documents unsealed in a New York federal court.
U.S. prosecutors previously filed civil lawsuits to seize assets that were allegedly bought with funds stolen from the 1MDB fund, the focus of a scandal that shook the political scene in Malaysia. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who created the fund in 2009, was criminally charged last week with misuse of money in the fund. Razak pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Najib lost his re-election bid in May, ending his party's six-decades of dominance in Malaysian politics.
Thursday's charges were the first criminal charges the Justice Department filed against individuals in the case, a scandal that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions described in a speech last December as "kleptocracy at its worst."