Roger Ng, wife sue banks for denying them access to their accounts

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Five frozen accounts at Maybank, two at RHB.

Bloomberg

Former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa and his wife, who have initiated legal actions against Malayan Banking Bhd to gain access to their five frozen bank accounts, have also filed a similar lawsuit against RHB Bank Bhd in January after being denied access to the two joint accounts they have at RHB.

Their two RHB joint accounts, along with Ng’s four accounts in Maybank and one under his wife Lim Hwee Bin, are said to have cash totalling RM1.88 million, which the Malaysian authorities had sought to seize via a forfeiture suit, but failed in its bid last November.

Like Maybank, RHB Bank has filed an application to strike out the couple’s suit. The application, filed on March 25, has been fixed for hearing on July 13 before High Court judicial commissioner Liza Chan Sow Keng, following case management on Thursday.

RHB was represented by Andrea Chew Mei Y’ng from Messrs Lee Hishammuddin Allen and Gledhill, while Datuk Tan Hock Chuan appeared for the couple.

Ng, notably, is the only former Goldman Sachs employee who has gone on trial in relation to the looting of billions of ringgit at 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

In their statement of claim (SOC) filed in their lawsuit against RHB sighted by theedgemarkets.com, the couple said they opened the joint accounts at RHB’s branch in Bangsar Shopping Centre.

On or about March 2019, they said the RHB accounts were seized by the authorities under the Anti Money Laundering, Anti Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activity Act 2001 (AMLATFPUA).

They claimed that the seizure order ceased in March 2020, while the High Court had dismissed the authorities’ forfeiture application on Nov 8 last year.

After the failed forfeiture order, Lim had gone to RHB Bank on several occasions in November and demanded access to the account to pay for their daily expenses, child’s education fees and other expenses. However, she was denied access to the joint accounts.

Seeking special damages of RM100,000 and other general, aggravated damages

The couple then filed a notice of demand to get access to the two accounts, which they said the bank had refused to comply with.

Like in the SOC filed in their suit against Maybank, the couple said Lim had issued a cheque for RM100,000 to one Rudy Ng Chong Jin, but the cheque was not honoured by the bank. The bank then replied through its solicitors that the couple’s accounts remained seized by the authorities.

Hence, the couple is seeking a court order that they be given access to the accounts, that the bank furnish them with true certified copies of the monthly statements from March 2019 till the date of the court order, special damages of RM100,000, as well as general and exemplary damages to be assessed by the court.

RHB files third party notice and defence

In response to the suit, RHB has also filed a third-party notice to the damages claimed by the couple to Supt Foo Wei Min from the police commercial division and Deputy Public Prosecutor Atiqah Liyana Shahrir, who is attached to the Anti Money Laundering and Forfeiture unit of the Attorney General Chambers. The third-party notice was filed last March 9.

Meanwhile, in RHB Bank’s defence dated March 10, the bank said the couple is not liable to claim damages from the bank pursuant to Section 50(2) of the AMLATFPUA, adding their remedy lies with the authorities.

“They should be aware that the order to seize had not been revoked due to the fact that the Public Prosecutor is continuing with the forfeiture application by appealing to the Court of Appeal. The bank is merely complying with the seizure order by the authorities,” the bank said.

As such, the bank said the duo are not entitled to seek the reliefs they sought, and that their claim should be dismissed by the court.

Ng and Lim, however, argued that the High Court, in dismissing the forfeiture orders sought by the authorities last November, had not made any orders for a stay of execution. This, they said, meant they should be allowed access to their accounts.

To this, RHB’s Bangsar branch manager Awangku Mohamad Ali Karim said in an affidavit in support of RHB’s striking out application, that the authorities had not revoked or varied the seizure order in view of the forfeiture application having continued on to appeal, and that the money in the couple’s accounts remained seized.

“In the event the bank failed to comply with the seizure order, it would be deemed to commit an offence under Section 50(3) of the AMLATFPUA.

“The plaintiff’s remedy lies with the authorities and not with the bank. For these reasons, I have been advised that the couple’s claim in this action is scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process, and we pray the defendant’s striking out application will be allowed,” Awangku Mohamad said.

Meanwhile, the couple’s suit against Maybank, in which they are seeking similar reliefs, has been fixed for further e-review before Judicial Commissioner Adlin Abdul Majid on May 13. – The Edge Markets