Ex-Goldman banker to finish Malaysia legal process before US extradition

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is hardly lying low ahead of his corruption trial on charges related to the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1MDB state investment fund. (File/AP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Ex-Goldman banker to finish Malaysia legal process before US extradition

  • Goldman’s role is under scrutiny as the Wall Street titan helped arrange $6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB
  • Authorities in Malaysia and the US accuse former employees of bribery and stealing billions of dollars

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A former Goldman Sachs banker accused of involvement in the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal will only be extradited to the United States after legal proceedings against him in Malaysia are completed, a minister said.
Huge sums of public money were purportedly stolen from Malaysian state fund 1MDB and used to buy everything from yachts to art in a scheme that allegedly involved former premier Najib Razak and contributed to his government’s election defeat.
Goldman’s role is under scrutiny as the Wall Street titan helped arrange $6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB. Authorities in Malaysia and the US accuse former employees of bribery and stealing billions of dollars, and investigators believe cash was laundered through the US financial system.
Malaysian Ng Chong Hwa, a former managing director at the bank, was indicted in November when US authorities also lodged an extradition request. He has been in custody in Malaysia since the US indictment.
Malaysia also filed charges against Ng, more commonly known as Roger Ng, as well as Goldman.
At a court hearing last week, Ng agreed to stop fighting the extradition request and said he wanted to be sent to the US within 30 days.
But Malaysia’s government must approve his extradition, and Interior Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Ng’s case in Malaysia must go ahead first.
“We will honor the extradition but we will prioritize the case in Malaysia until it is completed. This is the advice of the attorney-general, and we will abide by it,” Yassin said.
Ng’s case will likely come before the Malaysian courts again next month, he said.
Ng was charged in Malaysia in December with four counts related to 1MDB, and has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to 40 years in jail if convicted.
As well as Ng, former Goldman partner Tim Leissner and the bank’s subsidiaries are also accused of making false statements in order to steal billions of dollars, and of bribing officials.
Leissner has already pleaded guilty in the US to 1MDB-linked charges.


British MPs vote for bigger role in Brexit process

Updated 3 min 18 sec ago
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British MPs vote for bigger role in Brexit process

  • Monday’s vote sets up a potentially crucial clash between government and parliament on the best way to end a bitter political crisis
  • But even if MPs decide a majority course of action, the government is not legally bound to follow their instructions

LONDON: British MPs have voted to play a bigger role in Brexit, giving themselves the power to express their preference for different options in an unprecedented move that the government called “dangerous.”
On Monday evening MPs won a vote that will allow them to seize control of parliamentary business on Wednesday by 329 to 302, with three junior ministers quitting after voting against the government.
British pro-Brexit tabloid The Sun said Tuesday that May had “lost control of the Brexit process to MPs in a humiliating defeat.”
The Times also said the prime minister had been “humiliated by Tory rebellion” as the cabinet “prepares for (a) snap election.”
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and health minister Steve Brine resigned, a government source said, while business minister Richard Harrington announced his decision to leave government on Twitter.
In his resignation letter, Harrington said the government’s approach was “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country.”
But the Brexit ministry said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the vote, adding that it “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent.”
Three years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Monday’s vote sets up a potentially crucial clash between government and parliament on the best way to end a bitter political crisis.
MPs will now have the chance to vote on various options, such as revoking Article 50 and canceling Brexit, holding another referendum, a deal including a customs union and single market membership or leaving the EU without a deal.
But even if MPs decide a majority course of action, the government is not legally bound to follow their instructions.
“The government will continue to call for realism — any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU,” the Brexit ministry said.
The prime minister said she was “skeptical” about the process and that similar efforts in the past “produced contradictory outcomes or no outcomes at all.”
May admitted Monday she had still not secured the votes needed to get her own, twice-rejected Brexit deal through parliament, raising again the prospect that Britain could crash out of the European Union in just over two weeks’ time.
Anxious at the deepening crisis in London, EU leaders last week agreed to postpone Brexit to avoid a potentially catastrophic “no deal” divorce on March 29, when 46 years of ties were formally scheduled to end.
But they warned that unless May can persuade MPs this week to support her withdrawal deal, Britain must come up with a new plan by April 12 — or leave its closest trading partner with no deal at all.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was a “national embarrassment,” adding: “We will still face the prospect of a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”
The EU had earlier ramped up the pressure by announcing its full readiness to deal with the “increasingly likely” event of a no-deal Brexit in three weeks’ time.
Parliament remains deeply divided over Brexit, reflecting the sharp divisions in the country.
MPs have already voted against a “no deal” Brexit but this remains the default legal position unless they agree an alternative.
May went over her own Brexit scenarios at an emergency cabinet meeting earlier Monday.
It followed a weekend of media reports that her own ministers were trying to oust her.
Most of the alleged plotters are Brexit backers who fear the terms of Britain’s departure will be watered down or even reversed.
“Theresa May is the chicken who bottled Brexit,” former foreign minister Boris Johnson wrote in The Telegraph.
“It is time for the PM to channel the spirit of Moses in Exodus, and say to Pharaoh in Brussels — LET MY PEOPLE GO,” he wrote, leaving some room however for possibly supporting her deal.
What happens to her premiership if parliament favors a more EU-friendly Brexit that contradicts her policies is unclear.
Parliament is thought most likely to rally around the idea of keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU or its single market.
Both of those policies contradict May’s position.
A customs union would keep Britain from striking its own trade agreements with non-EU countries.
A single market would require the government to go back on May’s promise to regain control of Britain’s borders and migration policy.