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Ex-Goldman banker fights US extradition over 1MDB
[SINGAPORE] A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker is fighting extradition to the US, where he would face charges of money laundering and bribery related to scandal-plagued Malaysian state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Roger Ng was arrested last week in Malaysia at the request of American authorities. He's filing an application to review the US detention and extradition order, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Separately, Ng and his family have agreed to surrender about S$40 million to the authorities in neighboring Singapore, which would then repatriate the funds to Malaysia, the people said.
Goldman has been under scrutiny for years over its role in raising US$6.5 billion for 1MDB - and for the massive fees it earned from three bond deals. 1MDB is at the centre of a global scandal involving claims of embezzlement and money laundering, which have triggered investigations in the US, Singapore, Switzerland and beyond and helped drive Malaysia's former leader from power.
Ng is one of at least three current and former Goldman bankers implicated by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as having taken part in or having knowledge of what the DOJ calls a multi-year criminal enterprise. He was a deputy to Tim Leissner, Goldman's former chairman of South-east Asia, who has confessed to bribery and money laundering related to 1MDB.
Malaysia plans to extradite Ng to the US, Malay Mail reported last week, citing Amar Singh, commissioner at the police's commercial crimes department. Ng couldn't be reached for comment. Singh didn't immediately respond to calls, and Singapore authorities couldn't immediately comment.
Leissner admitted in a plea that he bribed officials to get the bond deals, and that he and others arranged the fundraising as debt offerings because it would generate higher fees for Goldman. Leissner also admitted that more than US$200 million in proceeds from 1MDB bonds flowed into accounts controlled by him and a relative.
Ng was Goldman's head of South-east Asia sales and trading when he resigned in April 2014, and was said to have played an important role in facilitating the US$1.75 billion bond deal that Goldman arranged for 1MDB in May 2012, dubbed Project Magnolia.
The S$40 million that Ng and his family are surrendering is in Singapore, where the authorities have frozen the money, the people said.
In September, Singapore ordered millions of dollars pilfered from 1MDB to be returned to Malaysia, the first time the city-state has repatriated assets to its neighbour following the probe. The funds in various currencies totalled about S$15.3 million and were transferred to a special 1MDB recovery bank account in Kuala Lumpur.
Goldman has previously said it believed the money it was raising for 1MDB would be used for development projects, and has sought to portray any wrongdoing as acts by rogue ex-employees. Chief executive officer David Solomon said on Wednesday in a Bloomberg Television interview that he felt "horrible" about the role former employees played in the scandal surrounding 1MDB, and that Goldman is cooperating with authorities.