(Updates with forfeiture demand by prosecutors.)
(March 22): Roger Ng, the only Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker tried and convicted in the global 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) scandal, asked a judge to let him serve his 10-year prison term in Danbury, Connecticut — the same facility where hotel magnate Leona Helmsley was imprisoned for tax evasion in the early 1990s.
Ng’s lawyer Marc Agnifilo asked US district judge Margo Brodie in a letter that she recommend the “lowest-possible designation” at the low-security federal prison for his client. Ng requires mental health treatment because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after he was jailed in a squalid Malaysian prison for six months before being extradited to the US for trial, Agnifilo wrote.
The federal institution is about 55 miles (90km) from New York City and served as the inspiration for the women’s prison in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. Among those who served time there were reality TV star Teresa Giudice and singer Lauryn Hill. Ghislaine Maxwell had also asked to serve her 20-year sentence for sex trafficking in Danbury, but was instead sent to a Florida prison.
Ng, 51, a Malaysian national, was convicted in April of conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws and taking part in a money laundering scheme. His former Goldman boss and 1MDB co-conspirator, Tim Leissner, previously pleaded guilty and was the government’s star witness against Ng. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in September.
In a filing late Tuesday, prosecutors said Ng should be ordered to forfeit more than US$35 million, disputing defence claims that he’s got no money left. Agnifilo has argued Malaysia seized almost US$30 million from Ng and his relatives before his 2018 arrest.
“The defendant’s argument is yet another attempt to evade forfeiture by pointing to his family’s restitutive payments to the victims of his crimes,” prosecutors said.
The US also argued Ng could still have assets, citing a lawsuit he filed in New York state court against Leissner seeking the return of his investment in beverage maker Celsius Holdings Inc that he says is now worth at least US$130 million.
While Ng alleged Leissner cheated him on the investment, Leissner agreed earlier this month to forfeit all of his 3.3 million Celsius shares as part of his criminal fines. The shares were valued at about US$298 million as of Wednesday.
“Should the defendant be successful in his lawsuit in state court, and/or a forfeiture proceeding against Leissner in this court as to the Celsius shares, the defendant could potentially receive millions of dollars, even in excess of the proposed forfeiture money judgment,” prosecutors said.
The looting of billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund was allegedly masterminded by Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), a Malaysian financier who is now a fugitive. He is accused of paying tens of millions of dollars to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to clinch bond deals arranged by Goldman, while pocketing US$1.42 billion.
The case is US v. Ng, 18-cr-538, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).