NEW YORK (AP) — A former Goldman Sachs executive accused in the alleged multibillion-dollar ransacking of a Malaysian state investment fund was extradited to the U.S. and had his initial court appearance Monday in New York City.
Roger Ng, who was arrested in Malaysia in November, pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million cash bail. The court ordered him placed on home detention and electronic monitoring while he awaits trial on money laundering and other charges.
Ng’s defense attorney, Marc Agnifilo, said outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn that Ng intends to “fight the case.”
“I’m happy he’s here. I’m happy he’s safe,” Agnifilo said. “I’m happy he’s no longer in the jail that he was in in Malaysia.”
Malaysian and U.S. prosecutors allege that bond sales organized 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. on May 3 for 10 months so that the U.S. prosecution can proceed first. Thomas said Ng will be returned to Malaysia to face charges as soon as the U.S. proceedings are over.
“The period of temporary surrender may be extended upon mutual agreement by Malaysia and the U.S.,” 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.