Lawyers deny former Goldman banker Roger Ng received 1MDB funds, insist cash was his

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng (left) and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo leave the federal court in New York May 6, 2019. — Reuters pic
Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng (left) and his lawyer Marc Agnifilo leave the federal court in New York May 6, 2019. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 1 — Allegations that misappropriated 1MDB funds were channelled through former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng’s account from 2015 to 2018 were baseless, his lawyers argued before the High Court here today.

Ng’s lead counsel, Datuk Tan Hock Chuan, said evidence in the form of bank statements, legal letters, and e-notice payment receipts that were the alleged money trail simply showed the movement of his personal funds across his bank accounts.

These transactions also involved money passing through the bank account of Ng’s wife, Lim Hwee Bin, but Tan argued that these were innocent transfers between spouses.

“The money that flowed to the seven accounts which belong to the 14th and 15th respondents (Ng and Lim) was their own money, and there is no prima facie evidence, no quantum of proof that shows the funds in their accounts were proceeds of illegal activities.

“These are transfers done from their own accounts, using their own money and not money from Jho Low, or 1MDB,” he said referring to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

Tan also rejected allegations within the investigating officer’s affidavits of the funds being proceeds from money laundering as porous and false, accusing investigators of failing to carry out due diligence to verify information claimed as hearsay.

“Instead of being duty-bound to verify all these documents, and despite hearing it as hearsay evidence, that’s (these are proceeds of money laundering is) the position that they have still taken.

“There are serious gaps devoid of any linkages to the commission of the offence, and when considered in the light on the connection of offences, they fail to show the offence under the Anti Money Laundering Act,” he submitted.

Ng and Lim are named as the 14th and 15th respondents in this quasi-civil forfeiture suit initiated by the government involving 18 respondents.

In this suit, the government is seeking to recover more than 350 valuable items seized from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s residences during police raids in 2018 at the height of the 1MDB investigations.

These valuable items include 263 branded handbags, 14 pieces of branded watches, cash in various currencies, including Singapore and US dollars, British pounds, Indonesian rupiah and euros, and funds amounting to more than RM14 million linked the 18 individuals.

The prosecution’s case is that the seized items and properties were either funds siphoned from 1MDB, or purchased with the ill-gotten gains that originated from the former sovereign wealth fund.

As for Ng and his wife Lim, the government is seeking to forfeit funds amounting to RM1,882,598.11 that flowed through the couples’ accounts.

Case papers sighted by Malay Mail show that the RM1.8 million linked to Ng and his wife were wired to their accounts through six separate transactions.

To dispute this, Tan detailed 13 transactions to the court of what he claimed to be the actual money trail of funds in contention, and presented with it the bank and legal statements along with payment receipts to back his argument.

Among these were documents detailing dividend payouts made in 2018 to Symphony Life Sdn Bhd, a company Ng owns, for its shares held in Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad, and payments by Ng to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore that same year.

Tan also presented statements to show 2016 intra-account transfers involving US dollars between Ng’s Malaysian and Singaporean bank accounts, and legal declarations by a Singaporean law firm that affirmed a 2017 transfer of more than S$2 million (RM6.16 million) into Ng’s account were proceeds from the sale of one of his properties on the island nation.

The documents also showed how the transactions involving a total of seven bank accounts were mostly done in the capital here, more often involving the Bangsar Shopping Centre RHB Bank branch and the Plaza Damansara Maybank outlet.

“So the investigating officer has claimed that some of these transactions into Ng and Lim’s accounts had come from foreign sources, which is totally untrue.

“These documents show that the money moving between his accounts was his own money, and it did not come from foreign sources, or anyone like Jho Low, or even 1MDB,” Tan submitted.

Besides Ng and Lim, the other figures that make up the 18 respondents in the suit are Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, their two children Nor Ashman Razak, Nooryana Najwa, and Najib’s stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz.

Also named are Mohd Kyizzad Mesran, Senijauhar Sdn Bhd, Aiman Ruslan, Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, Yayasan Semesta, Yayasan Mustika Kasih, Rembulan Kembara Sdn Bhd, Jho Low’s mother Goh Gaik Ewe, along with Kee Kok Thiam, Tan Vern Tact, and Geh Choh Hun.

The hearing before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues on Monday, April 5.

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