Person

John Pang

Occupation:

Government Consultant

John Pang is a former member of the global board of the Open Society Foundations, the flagship organization within the international grantmaking and advocacy network of Hungarian billionaire financier and activist George Soros. Originally from Malaysia, Pang has advised the offices of the Malaysian minister of education and prime minister, as well as government leaders in Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and Myanmar. He was also involved in facilitating the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive trade, transit, and communications project spearheaded by the People’s Republic of China. [1]

Pang was tangentially connected to a corruption scandal which involved the government of Malaysia. Pang once provided his advisory services to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who was accused of embezzlement. Pang later made statements condemning Najib. [2] This included a memorandum for President Barack Obama which leaked along with the emails of Democratic Party political operative John Podesta in 2016. [3]

Background

In addition to his work with the Soros Network, Pang was the chairman of a regional council of the World Economic Forum, a committee of prominent international government and private sector leaders which aims to develop policy and set agendas for nations and multinational organizations. Outside of his work for government and non-government organizations, Pang has provided strategy consulting services to corporations in numerous industries, including telecommunications, aviation, energy, infrastructure, tourism, and finance. [4]

Najib Razak Controversies

As a policy consultant and advisor, John Pang had many high-profile government, nonprofit, and corporate clients, including the office of the prime minister of Malaysia. [5]According to the New York Times, Pang once worked for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who lost re-election in 2018 and was subsequently charged with embezzlement by Malaysian authorities. Following Najib’s indictment, Pang told the Times that the fund which was allegedly used to steal state resources “was dodgy from the beginning” and that there was “no excuse for not knowing” the fund’s true purpose. While there is no evidence to suggest that Pang was involved with the fund, he was an adviser on a separate deal with Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, who played a significant part in setting up the alleged embezzlement fund and ended up pleading guilty to bribery and money laundering charges. [6]

Several years prior, Pang had also contacted the Obama administration to warn against backing the prime minister. According to Rolling Stone, Pang’s memo was exposed as part of the leak of the Podesta emails, a collection of private communications among Democratic Party operatives released by Wikileaks. Soon after the Malaysian government took legal action against the former prime minister, Pang moved to the United States, claiming that he feared for his safety due to alleged violence directed towards Najib’s critics. [7]

Education

John Pang received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the London School of Economics. He was also a researcher at Stanford University and a senior fellow at Columbia University, New York University, and the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. [8]

References

  1. “Fellows.” The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. Accessed December 5, 2021. https://hac.bard.edu/fellows/ ^
  2.  Emily Flitter et al. “Goldman Chairman Met Privately With Fugitive Accused in Malaysian Fraud.” The New York Times. November 22, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/business/goldman-blankfein-1mdb-malaysia.html ^
  3. Matt Taibbi. “The Malaysia Scandal Is Starting to Look Dire for Goldman Sachs.” Rolling Stone. December 28, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2021. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/1mdb_malaysia-goldman-sachs-criminal-charges-772795/ ^
  4. “Fellows.” The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. Accessed December 5, 2021. https://hac.bard.edu/fellows/ ^
  5. “Fellows.” The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. Accessed December 5, 2021.https://hac.bard.edu/fellows/ ^
  6. Emily Flitter et al. “Goldman Chairman Met Privately With Fugitive Accused in Malaysian Fraud.” The New York Times. November 22, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2021.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/business/goldman-blankfein-1mdb-malaysia.html ^
  7. Matt Taibbi. “The Malaysia Scandal Is Starting to Look Dire for Goldman Sachs.” Rolling Stone. December 28, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2021.https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/1mdb_malaysia-goldman-sachs-criminal-charges-772795/ ^
  8. “Fellows.” The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. Accessed December 5, 2021.https://hac.bard.edu/fellows/ ^
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