Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs bank executive who is currently in jail in Malaysia, has agreed to voluntarily return to the United States to face abetment charges in a scheme to loot state investment firm 1MDB.
Lawyers saw the move as part of a deal to help the US Department of Justice (DOJ) build its case against his former employer.
Under a still-in-progress legal settlement, Ng agreed yesterday to waive his rights to his extradition committal proceedings in Malaysia and voluntarily return to New York to face charges in a US federal court that he helped his former boss to launder money and bribe government officials as part of Goldman Sach's work for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Ng, who left the investment bank and financial services company in 2014, agreed to waive his rights on extradition and would be sent to the US pending an order from the Malaysian Home Affairs Ministry, Judge Edwin Paramjothy Michael Muniandy said in a Kuala Lumpur court yesterday.
Mr Tan Hock Chuan, Ng's lawyer, asked for the order to be issued within 30 days, and noted that his client had reached an agreement with the DOJ on bail and other terms.
"The respondent intends to defend the case on its merits in the court of the Eastern District of New York, the United States," Mr Tan told the court.
Lawyers close to the case said that Ng was likely to receive bail in the US and negotiations were ongoing for him to cooperate with the DOJ in the case that it is building against Goldman.
Goldman is being investigated by the Malaysian authorities and the DOJ over its role as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion (S$8.8 billion) for 1MDB.
Asked about Ng, a spokesman for the multinational firm said: "As we have said all along, we are outraged that any employee of the firm would undertake the actions detailed in the government's charges."
A senior official at Malaysia's Attorney-General's Chambers noted that extradition proceedings are typically very drawn out when an accused such as Ng objects to the move. "At the end, it is up to him," the official said.
It is not clear how Malaysia will proceed with its legal campaign against Ng, who was arrested last November and subsequently charged with four counts for abetting Goldman in selling US$6 billion of guaranteed notes and bonds issued by 1MDB and its subsidiaries by omitting material information and publishing untrue information.
The DOJ has charged Ng, his former boss at Goldman, Tim Leissner, and fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho with allegedly bribing officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi and laundering money raised by 1MDB through its bond issues.