NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG): Roger Ng, the only Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker tried and convicted in the global 1MDB scandal, says he suffers a "substantial mental health condition” and shouldn’t receive the 15-year prison term sought by prosecutors.
Ng, 51, faces sentencing on Thursday (March 9) before United States (US) District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn, New York.
ALSO READ: Ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng says Malaysian jail was ‘absolute hell’
The former managing director, who was found guilty in April 2022, said in a letter to the judge on Wednesday (March 8) that a court-appointed psychiatrist found he suffers from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
That PTSD is "likely going to be exacerbated by confinement and by any experiences that reactivate his trauma,” his lawyer Marc Agnifilo wrote.
"Further incarceration would exacerbate this serious mental health condition,” he said.
US Attorney Breon Peace’s office has urged that Ng be given a lengthy sentence because he was a key player in the conspiracy to loot the Malaysian fund of billions of dollars.
ALSO READ: Ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng seeks leniency in 1MDB scandal
But Ng has asked Brodie to sentence him to no jail time in the US, arguing that the six months he spent in a Malaysian prison before extradition to New York and four years of house arrest were punishment enough.
Agnifilo, on Wednesday, also argued that Ng deserves leniency because the Malaysian government "has been made whole” because he relinquished claims to US$35.1mil (RM159mil) that it seized from his accounts.
But prosecutors argue that Brodie should ignore Ng’s pleas for time served.
ALSO READ: 1MDB: Roger Ng granted DNAA pending sentencing in US trial
"Roger Ng played a critical role in a massive bribery and money laundering scheme that stole billions of dollars intended for infrastructure and economic projects to aid the Malaysian people,” prosecutors said in court papers.
They urged Brodie to "send a message to other professionals in the financial world who are tempted to gain an advantage or to win business through cheating and bribery.”
Ng and his former Goldman boss, Tim Leissner, were accused of conspiring with Malaysian financier Jho Low, the scheme’s alleged mastermind.
ALSO READ: Ex-Goldman banker Roger Ng should get 15 years for 1MDB, say US prosecutors
Low paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to clinch bond deals arranged by Goldman, taking $1.42 billion for himself.
Low, who was indicted with Ng, is a fugitive.
Less time for Leissner
Leissner pleaded guilty and was the government’s star witness at Ng’s trial. He’ll be sentenced in September but will likely get less time due to his cooperation. Prosecutors say Leissner made US$73.4mil (RM332mil) in the scheme.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak received US$756mil (RM3.4bil) and Khadem al-Qubaisi, a former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co, which guaranteed the 1MDB transactions, got US$472.8mil (RM2.2bil), a forensic accountant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified at Ng’s trial.
Goldman paid more than US$2.9bil (RM13.1bil) to US authorities and more than US$5bil (RM22.6bil) globally for its role in the scheme, with its Malaysian unit pleading guilty in the US to a single conspiracy charge.
Goldman’s US penalty was the largest-ever for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a fact which Agnifilo highlighted on Wednesday.
"The government already sent its message to the world about Goldman when it accepted its money for a deferred prosecution agreement,” Agnifilo wrote Wednesday.
Jeff Ifrah, a white-collar defence lawyer and expert on federal sentencing guidelines, said Ng would have a tough time convincing the judge to sentence him to time served. He noted that the size of the fraud is a factor when it came to sentencing, and the scale of the looting at 1MDB suggested Ng could get as many as 30 years.
"Once you’re above that range, it’s equivalent to launching a nuclear weapon in Times Square,” Ifrah said. "How much is the judge going to reduce that?”
The case is US v. Ng, 18-cr-538, US District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). - Bloomberg