U.S. starts giving documents to lawyers of ex-Goldman banker Ng in 1MDB case

May 23, 2019

By Suzanne Barlyn

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Thursday handed over the first of 1 million evidentiary documents to the lawyers of Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker facing criminal charges linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal at the Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB.

The U.S. Department of Justice handed over to Ng’s lawyers a “small subset” of more than 1 million documents the government is relying on to prosecute the case, said Assistant United States Attorney Drew Rolle during a hearing at a Brooklyn federal court.

The U.S. 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 Group Inc handled. He was extradited on May 3 to New York from Kuala Lumpur, where he had been jailed since November.

Ng pleaded not guilty to the charges on May 6 and was released in exchange for a $20 million bond.

Government lawyers have said they hope to avoid a trial by reaching a plea deal, though Ng’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, said this month it was too early to tell.

Ng, who left Goldman Sachs in 2014, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the three charges based on alleged violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Malaysia’s home minister wanted Ng to face criminal charges there first, but agreed to temporarily surrender him to the United States for 10 months, Malaysia’s attorney general, Tommy Thomas, said in a statement.

The period may be extended, Thomas has said.

The 1MDB case has shaken Goldman Sachs, which is also being probed by the Justice Department for its role as underwriter and arranger for some $6.5 billion worth of 1MDB bond offerings.

Prosecutors have estimated that high-level 1MDB fund officials and their associates misappropriated $4.5 billion between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped 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.

Ng was charged in Kuala Lumpur with four counts of abetting the bank to provide misleading statements in the offering prospectus for 1MDB bond sales.

Tim Leissner, another former Goldman Sachs banker, and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho have also been charged in the United States over 1MDB. Leissner has pleaded guilty.

Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, has consistently denied wrongdoing through spokesmen.

Malaysia has said it was seeking up to $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman over its dealings with 1MDB, set up in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib, who lost a general election last year, faces 42 criminal charges related to losses at 1MDB and other state entities. He has pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York; Additional reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Lauren LaCapra and Phil Berlowitz)

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