A FORMER Goldman Sachs banker pleaded not guilty yesterday in New York to bribery and other charges in the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal after being extradited from Malaysia.
Malaysian Ng Chong Hwa, 51, a former managing director at the bank charged in both Malaysia and America with the 1MDB fraud, was extradited to the United States on Friday, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said.
Also known as Roger Ng, the defendant was arraigned before a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, pleading not guilty, according to a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in New York.
Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo said there were no “active” plea negotiations and that his client would consider “all options” after a judge said the two sides were in plea talks, Bloomberg reported.
A US indictment against Ng includes charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Huge sums of public money were stolen from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd and used to mass a trove of personal riches, including yachts and artwork, in a scheme allegedly overseen by former prime minister Najib Razak and his cronies.
Goldman Sachs’ role is under scrutiny because the Wall Street bank helped arrange US$6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB.
Authorities in Malaysia accuse former employees and some of the bank’s subsidiaries of stealing US$2.7 billion in the process and investigators believe cash was laundered through the US financial system.
Thomas said in a statement that an agreement had been reached for “a temporary surrender by Malaysia of Roger Ng for a period of 10 months to enable him to be extradited to the US and for the US prosecution to proceed first”.
Ng had been in custody in Malaysia since November when the US unveiled 1MDB-linked charges against him and lodged an extradition request.
Malaysia later filed its own charges against Ng over the scandal.
Ng asked to be sent to the US but Malaysia initially insisted he remain in the country until legal proceedings there had been completed.
Malaysia and the US have also charged former Goldman partner Tim Leissner for his part in the controversy.
Leissner has already pleaded guilty in the US to 1MDB-linked charges.
The US also indicted Low Taek Jho, an alleged mastermind behind the scandal and an intermediary to the Malaysian fund. Low remains at large.
The US Justice Department estimates that US$4.5 billion was looted from the fund by Najib and his associates.
The allegations played a major role in Najib’s loss of power last year. He has since been hit with dozens of charges linked to the scandal and last month went on trial.