Goldman's 1MDB plea deal makes it 'impossible' to convict Roger Ng in Malaysia, says his US lawyer

13 Jul 2020 1:08 pm by Richard Vanderford, Ben Lucas

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Goldman Sachs’ settlement with the Malaysian government over corruption charges in the 1MDB scandal makes it “impossible” to convict former banker Roger Ng in Malaysia, his US lawyer told MLex.

The ex-Goldman Sachs banker was charged in Malaysia with four counts of abetting Goldman Sachs in the sale of bonds for the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, totaling $6.5 billion.

Marc Agnifilo, his US lawyer, said that the bank’s $3.9 billion settlement with the Malaysian government, announced on July 24, will make it very difficult to convict him on these current charges.

“Under Malaysian law, where a principal has not been convicted the abettor cannot be convicted, which it will apparently never be. The Malaysians can change their charges. But with the current charges it’s impossible in my view to obtain a conviction of Roger because Malaysia has not obtained a conviction of Goldman Sachs,” Agnifilo said.

Agnifilo’s comment challenges the Malaysian government’s promise, where it said: “This settlement will not affect Malaysia’s claims against Jho Low and other parties related to the 1MDB scandal.”

The Malaysian government also said that the settlement with the bank “represents its acknowledgment of the misconduct of two of its former employees in the broader 1MDB [fraud] and corruption scheme.”

N. Sivananthan, a senior criminal lawyer in Malaysia, said he agreed that it will be difficult to convict Ng on the current charges.

“The position taken by [Goldman Sachs] is that Roger Ng was a rogue employee who acted without the knowledge of his superiors and they [Goldman Sachs] were victims of a deception and fraud perpetrated on them by Roger. The settlement in Malaysia is [Goldman Sachs] taking responsibility for the losses caused by the actions of their employee,” he said.

“I suspect that the charge against Roger may be amended in due course to reflect this new position,” he added.

Malaysia’s Attorney General’s Office and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission didn’t respond to requests for comment. Ng’s Malaysian lawyer, Tan Hock Chuan, declined to comment.

Ng, a Malaysia national, is currently in the US, where he is accused of paying bribes and laundering stolen money from 1MDB.

He was charged in the US in November 2018, and was extradited to the US from Malaysia in May last year.

He faces three criminal charges and up to 30 years in jail if he is convicted in the US. He denies the allegations against him.

His trial in the US is currently scheduled to begin in January next year.

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