KUALA LUMPUR: Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng, who faces criminal charges in Malaysia and the US over state investment fund 1MDB, will remain in custody pending the outcome of extradition proceedings.
This follows a decision by Sessions Court judge M Edwin Paramjothy, who dismissed an oral application for bail by Ng’s counsel Tan Hock Chuan today.
Last month, the government filed an application in the Sessions Court to obtain an order to extradite Ng to the US to face trial.
Ng, who was deputy to Goldman’s former Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner, is expected to contest the application.
Tan had made an oral bail application before Paramjothy on Friday for Ng to leave prison, pending the court outcome on whether or not Malaysia can hand him over to the US Department of Justice.
The judge was of the view that Ng posed a serious flight risk.
“With the likelihood that the respondent will abscond, I am of the considered view that the presence of the respondent cannot be secured by the setting of bail or setting of any conditions for the granting of bail.
“One end of the factor is the interest of the state in fulfilling the treaty obligation, and on the other end of the factor is the respondent’s interest.
“A proper balance must be struck. The interest of justice would be best served if the respondent remained in custody pending the outcome of this extradition process,” Paramjothy said.
He said although Ng’s counsel had presented, before the court, his record of past ailments such as leptospirosis, food poisoning, dengue and viral fever, there was nothing for an objective assessment of his current health condition.
“As a result, the court is left unconvinced that the respondent’s health problems are unique and cannot be dealt with while in custody.
“More importantly, the respondent has not provided sufficient details of his condition or needs to the satisfaction of this court by clear and convincing evidence that the severity of his condition comprises the circumstances warranting his release on bail,” he said.
Paramjothy also said the need to consult with lawyers to gather evidence to prepare the defence, although necessary, was not extraordinary.
“All incarcerated persons need to do these things.
“However, the grounds for bail in this case merely because of the hardship upon the respondent in preparing his legal brief with his counsel is misplaced,” he added.
Tan told the court he had been informed by his client that an officer with the Sungai Buloh prison authorities had sent him for medical treatment last night. He asked if the court could direct the prison authorities to provide a copy of the medical report.
“The stated health conditions are not made up by Ng. He is unwell, and the medical report will show this. We have not been furnished with the document,” he said.
Tan also asked if the court could direct prison authorities to give them two-hour sessions, twice a week, which comes to four hours in total. At present, he said, meetings with his client are limited to an hour a week.
“The respondent is helpless. We want to mount a defence and a proper affidavit in reply, but the reality is that we are hamstrung. It is not a level playing field,” he said, adding that when his counterpart from the US had come to see Ng, he was not allowed access to him.
Deputy public prosecutor Mahadhir Mohamad Khairuddin however said the one-hour sessions afforded to Tan and his client were at the discretion of the prison authorities.
Paramjothy then asked Tan to follow up with the prison authorities on the status of the letter for the medical report.
He fixed Jan 22 for the next mention, after Tan informed him of “a possibility of updating the court on any developments”.
He also fixed Feb 15 for the filing of the affidavit in reply.
On Dec 19, Ng claimed trial before another Sessions Court to four counts of abetting the US-based investment bank by omitting facts and making untrue statements on the 1MDB sale of notes worth RM6.5 billion in bonds.
The offences were allegedly committed at 1MDB’s offices at Menara IMC along Jalan Sultan Ismail between March 19, 2012, and Nov 11, 2013.
The offences under Section 370 (c), read together with Section 179 (c) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007, carry a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of not less than RM1 million upon conviction.
Businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, the operator and key intermediary for 1MDB, is also wanted in the US to face a slew of criminal charges for bribery and money laundering.
His whereabouts are unknown, although Interpol has issued a red notice for him.
Leissner, who pleaded guilty to the charges against him, told a US court that he took part in money laundering, bribery and obtaining kickbacks from 2009 to 2014 in an effort to acquire and execute the “strategic” 1MDB transaction to benefit himself and Goldman.