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Ex-Goldman banker says US$35 million US demand is unconstitutional

Bloomberg • 2 min read
Ex-Goldman banker says US$35 million US demand is unconstitutional
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Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Roger Ng, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week for his role in the 1MDB fraud, is claiming he can’t meet US prosecutors’ demand that he also pay US$35 million because the Malaysian government already took all of his money.

Federal prosecutors had asked US District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn, New York, to order Ng to forfeit that amount as ill-gotten gains from the conspiracy to loot the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund at his March 9 sentencing. Ng’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, argued that no other penalties were needed and that his client had no funds in any case.

Brodie didn’t rule on the forfeiture issue last week. In an order late Wednesday, the judge directed both sides to submit arguments on whether or not the amount sought by prosecutors violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits excessive fines along with cruel and unusual punishment.

Ng, 51, contends that the Malaysian government already seized more than US$35 million from 11 accounts held by Ng’s family. In a Monday court filing, Agnifilo stressed that the seizure was intended as punishment rather than restitution.

“The police officials of Malaysia were very clear that the police wanted all of the money in the different accounts; not just the return of those funds it had formally traced to 1MDB,” Agnifilo wrote.

Though Agnifilo said there were other grounds to deny the US forfeiture demand, he also said it violated the Eighth Amendment.

See also: US returns US$156 mil misappropriated 1MDB funds to Malaysia

Brodie said Wednesday that she believed that forfeiture was “statutorily required” for the crimes of which Ng was convicted but wanted both sides to address Ng’s argument that the US$35 million demand was “grossly disproportionate.”

Ng was found guilty in April of conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws and launder money. His former Goldman boss and 1MDB co-conspirator, Tim Leissner, previously pleaded guilty and was the government’s star witness against Ng.

Leissner, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 6, was ordered earlier this month to forfeit US$43.7 million in cash as well as 3.3 million shares in fitness drink company Celsius Holdings Inc.

The case is US v Ng, 18-cr-538, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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