A former Goldman Sachs executive accused in the alleged multibillion-dollar ransacking of a Malaysian state investment fund was extradited to the US and had his initial court appearance Monday in New York City.
Roger Ng, who was arrested in Malaysia in November, pleaded not guilty was ordered released on USD 1 million cash bail.
The court ordered him placed on home detention and electronic monitoring while he awaits trial.
Malaysian and US prosecutors allege that bond sales organised by Goldman Sachs for the 1MDB investment fund provided a way for associates of Malaysian ex-leader Najib Razak to steal and launder billions over several years.
Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009, ostensibly to accelerate Malaysia’s economic development, but the fund amassed billions in debts and is being investigated in the US and several other countries for alleged cross-border embezzlement and money laundering.
Embezzlement from the fund became a political scandal in Malaysia, with money spent on jewels, art and other luxury items, and to finance the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Wolf of Wall Street” and other Hollywood productions.
Ng has been charged in both countries. His former supervisor at Goldman Sachs, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and conspiring to violate foreign bribery laws.
Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, identified by the US as a mastermind of the 1MDB fraud, has also been charged but remains at large. Malaysia’s attorney general, Tommy Thomas, said in a statement that following negotiations, Malaysia agreed to surrender Ng to the US on May 3 for 10 months so that the US prosecution can proceed first.
Thomas said Ng will be returned to Malaysia to face charges as soon as the US proceedings are over.
“The period of temporary surrender may be extended upon mutual agreement by Malaysia and the US,” Thomas added.
The scandal helped precipitate Najib’s ouster in a historic election defeat last May.
Najib himself is facing corruption charges linked to 1MDB but denies any wrongdoing.
Malaysia’s current government has also filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs, Ng and another former executive, Tim Leissner, and is seeking USD 7.5 billion in compensation from the ban