Thursday 20 Jun 2024
main news image

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian-born Goldman Sachs banker who was instrumental in advising the setting up of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and helped in its debt issuing spree in the past five years has left the US bank.

A Goldman Sachs spokesman confirmed to The Edge that Singapore-based managing director Roger Ng had resigned in April to “do his own thing”. Last Friday was his last day at the bank.

Several sources who spoke to The Edge confirmed that he had been planning to leave for some time. “He was not fired or asked to leave,” said one banker who was aware of his resignation.

At the time of his resignation, Ng was head of Goldman’s Southeast Asian sales and trading unit for FICC, or fixed income, currencies and commodities.

Ng joined Goldman in 2005 from Deutsche Bank Malaysia.

Said to be politically well connected, he was the principal person behind Goldman’s success in handling close to US$8 billion (RM25.9 billion) in various bonds that were issued by Malaysian entities since 2009.

At Goldman, Ng was responsible for “building relationships” in Malaysia, a banking source said. And that included relationships with the top levels of Malaysian government, the Sarawak government, family of the state’s Governor Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as well as the Terengganu government. It was a relationship that led to the setting up of 1MDB and its current structure, according to several bankers.

Among his successes were Goldman’s mandate to handle US$6.5 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB and another US$1.6 billion in debt paper issued by the Sarawak government.

Bankers often cite the way Goldman was able to structure some of the deals as indication of its strong relationship with Malaysia’s top leaders and its aggressive sales strategy. One example was the US$3 billion bond issued by 1MDB in March last year (three months before the May 5 general election). Goldman took the whole issue for around US$2.7 billion. This meant it would be able to make US$300 million if it subsequently sold the bonds at their face value.

Leissner is close to high flying businessman Jho Low

The US$3 billion bond was for the Tun Razak Exchange development, but was almost immediately sent out by 1MDB to be invested with some little known funds overseas. Questions have been raised as to why 1MDB needed to raise so much money (RM36 billion to date) in such a short period of time and then park so much of it (RM18 billion) overseas.

Bankers said Ng and the firm’s Hong Kong-based vice-chairman of investment banking Tim Leissner are close to high flying businessman Jho Low, and all three were involved in advising the government in starting up 1MDB.

The Goldman Sachs source said Ng’s resignation had nothing to do with any of its clients.

Aside from 1MDB, the Sarawak government and entities linked the Abdul Taib, Goldman Sachs lent hundreds of millions to several of its private banking clients to buy stakes in Singapore-listed Asiasons Capital, Blumont Group and LionGold Corp, which were involved the penny-stock trading debacle in Singapore earlier this year.

Several shareholders have filed suits accusing the investment banking giant of arbitrarily selling their holdings and saying the sales contributed to the crash in their prices. The bank has denied all charges.

It is not clear how Ng’s departure will impact Goldman’s future investment banking and bond issuance business in Malaysia. Leissner remains with the bank.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 14, 2014.

      Text Size