Ex-Goldman banker extradited to US to face 1MDB charges

Pedro Gonçalves
clock
Ex-Goldman banker extradited to US to face 1MDB charges

A former Goldman Sachs banker has been extradited from Malaysia to the US to face criminal charges connected to the $4.5bn corruption scandal at the 1MDB state investment fund.

Malaysian Roger Ng has been detained in Kuala Lumpur since Nov. 1, shortly after the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced charges against him for allegedly laundering funds diverted from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund. He left Goldman Sachs in 2014.

Malaysia's attorney general said Roger Ng had been transferred to the US for 10 months, after which he would be returned to face charges in his home country.

The US Department of Justice accused 46-year-old Ng last year of conspiring to launder money and bribe government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi through bond offerings that Goldman Sachs handled.

Ng arrived in New York from Malaysia early Monday and appeared in federal court in Brooklyn, where he entered a not guilty plea. But US Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo, of US District Court in Brooklyn, New York, said at his arraignment that a constitutional guarantee to a speedy trial was being set aside because the two sides are "engaged in plea negotiations."

Kuo allowed Ng to be released in exchange for a $20m bond. He was fitted for an ankle bracelet, and will be staying at an undisclosed location in the New York City area that the court approved.

 Roger Ng is in plea talks to avoid a U.S. trial on charges that he broke American anti-bribery laws and conspired to launder money embezzled from Malaysia's state investment fund 1MDB.

His lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said he convinced Ng to "come to the U.S. and face the music" because it was evident that prosecutors were not going to drop the case, and his client had become very ill.

Ng, who left Goldman Sachs in 2014, faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of the three charges against him in the US.

The DoJ has estimated that a total of $4.5bn was misappropriated by high-level 1MDB fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped to raise.

Goldman Sachs has consistently denied wrongdoing and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to it about how the bond proceeds would be used.

Malaysia said the US government returned around $57m recovered from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) assets in the "first instalment" of funds to be repatriated under a US kleptocracy asset recovery initiative.

The DoJ is also in the process of remitting another $139m, pending the sale of a Manhattan property linked to fugitive Malaysian financier, Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, the AGC said in a statement. 

US prosecutors are also looking to sell a $39m Los Angeles mansion allegedly bought by the financier with the stolen money, court filings showed.

The Malaysian authorities have evidence that Jho Low kept a lot of the money siphoned off from state investment fund 1MDB for himself, said the country's prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

 

Click here to subscribe to International Investment's free twice-daily newsletter