NEW YORK – Former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng, the only employee of the bank to be tried and convicted over the global 1MDB scandal, asked a US judge not to send him to prison for his role in the epic looting of the Malaysian fund.
Ng’s lawyers said in a filing early on Saturday to a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, that the 50-year-old native of Malaysia has suffered enough, having spent six months in a Malaysian prison and four years alone under house arrest in the United States.
“He was incarcerated under brutal and cruel conditions in a Malaysian prison for over six months before being picked up by US authorities,” the lawyers said. “There can be no doubt that Mr Ng has suffered and has been punished every day since the day of his arrest.”
They asked the judge to sentence him to time served and allow him to return to Malaysia, where he faces additional criminal charges.
Ng was convicted by a federal jury in April of three felony counts, including conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws and conspiring to launder money.
He faces a statutory maximum prison term as long as 30 years but federal courts typically impose far lesser sentences. US District Judge Margo Brodie has scheduled his sentencing for March 9.
Prosecutors said Ng received millions of dollars in kickbacks from three bond deals Goldman Sachs arranged for 1MDB. The bank paid more than US$2.9 billion (S$3.9 billion), the largest penalty of its kind in US history, and more than US$5 billion globally for its role in the scheme.
Just as he did at trial, in Ng’s 78-page sentencing memo, he and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo hotly contested the government’s charges against him.
For example, he argued that he did not play a leadership role in the scheme, insisting that his colleague Tim Leissner got the 1MDB deal done because he alone lied to Goldman’s compliance about his interactions with corrupt Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.
“Mr Ng’s role in the offence was minimal, and the only claim to the contrary was provided by Tim Leissner, who was patently incredible,” Ng’s lawyers wrote.
They noted Ng’s family paid back all the alleged 1MDB funds, plus additional money not related to 1MDB, “virtually the totality of the family’s combined wealth over generations”.
In a memo to the court, Ng disputed some of the government’s assertions, arguing that the total amount of bribes paid in the scheme was US$1.1 billion while US court officials said in a memo to Ng’s sentencing judge that it was about US$2 billion.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in the office of Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace said earlier in February that “it has been able to definitively trace” US$1.6 billion from the 1MDB bond deals in bribe payments to foreign government officials.
Prosecutors will recommend a sentence to the judge in a filing later.
Leissner, who pleaded guilty and was the government’s star witness against Ng, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept 6. BLOOMBERG