Roger Ng's trial transferred to High Court, may be combined with Goldman Sachs bond sale case

Roger Ng's counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex today. (Photos by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge)

DPP Mohd Zaki Asyraf Zubir (far left) and Aaron Chelliah (second left) with representatives from the Securities Commission Malaysia.

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 25): Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa's trial for abetting the financial institution in the sale of guaranteed notes and bonds belonging to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) will now be heard at the High Court.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed deputy public prosecutor Mohd Zaki Asyraf Zubir and Aaron Chelliah's application to transfer the case involving Ng, who is presently in the United States, to the High Court.

The transfer is allowed as Ng's counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan said he has no objections over the transfer.

Justice Zaini then asked the prosecution whether they intend to have Ng's case be jointly heard with their case against Goldman Sachs, to which Zaki said the court is studying the matter, and there is a great likelihood that the cases would be combined.

"We have to file further applications and affidavits for this purpose," he said.

The court had fixed Nov 9-13 as trial dates for the Goldman Sachs bond sale case and Justice Zaini wanted Tan to take note of those dates.

Tan informed the court that it remains uncertain when his client would be returning from the US.

Ng has been in the US since May last year, where he is charged by the US Department of Justice with conspiring to launder money and bribe government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi in relation to the global, multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal.

Prior to this, the 47-year-old had claimed trial to four charges of abetting Goldman Sachs in the sale of notes and bonds belonging to 1MDB subsidiaries by omitting material information and publishing untrue statements.

He is charged under Subsection 370(c) of Capital Markets and Services Act 2007, which carries a punishment of up to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of not less than RM1 million, upon conviction.

In the first charge, Ng is accused of abetting Goldman Sachs International in the omission of material facts in the issuance of the 10-year US$1.75 billion bond by 1MDB Energy Ltd, while the second is in relation to omitting material facts in a 10-year US$1.75 billion bond issuance by 1MDB Energy (Langat) Ltd.

The third charge related to omitting material facts in the issuance of 10-year US$3 billion bond by 1MDB Global Investments Ltd and the fourth is abetting the same financial institution in making untrue statements of material facts in offering circulars on the bonds issued by 1MDB Global Investments.

Among material facts allegedly omitted in these charges was "a person named Low Taek Jho, 37, is the principal controller and intermediary of 1MDB".

Goldman Sachs International was the bookrunner or arranger or both for the three bond issuances.

Justice Zaini reminded parties today to keep the court informed of all developments regarding the cases so it could be well prepared.

Meanwhile, Tan informed the court that the defence had yet to receive all documents regarding the case which were promised to them by March 5 at the Sessions Court.

"Unlike the bank (Goldman Sachs) which may have the documents, my client being a former employee does not possess anything," the lawyer said.

Justice Zaini wants this matter to be looked into and Zaki said he would make the necessary arrangements.