Billionaire Ng Probe Yielded Earlier Arrest, Lawyer Says

  • Ng jailed, accused of bringing $4.5 million into U.S.
  • Magistrate ordered Ng's aide held, saying he could flee

The U.S. secretly arrested a third person as part of an investigation of billionaire Macau developer Ng Lap Seng, a lawyer for his assistant told a federal magistrate Tuesday.

That person’s name is being withheld by the government, the lawyer said during a court hearing Tuesday. The person, a woman, was described in court papers filed against Ng as having had “business dealings” with him. The charges against the woman are pending under seal in federal court in Brooklyn, the lawyer said.

Ng, 68, who has a personal net worth of about $1.8 billion, has been held in a federal jail in Manhattan since he was arrested Sept. 19, accused of bringing $4.5 million into the country and lying about its purpose to U.S. authorities. Federal law requires people entering the U.S. to disclose to customs agents if they are carrying more than $10,000.

His assistant, Jeff Yin, 29, who was also arrested and charged, was ordered held without bail after a federal magistrate concluded Tuesday he may try to flee the country if he’s released on bond.

Yin’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said at a bail hearing Tuesday that the government was attempting to prosecute her client and the woman, described as "Individual-1" in a criminal complaint against Ng. Shroff said the government wants them to provide information against Ng, who she called "the real person they’re after." Shroff said her client had severed all ties with Ng and rejected a lawyer he’d sent to represent him.

"It’s very clear they have many other fish to fry," Shroff said. "My client is just a link, as is Individual-1 in Brooklyn.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn voiced concern that Yin didn’t tell U.S. officials he had a Chinese passport in addition to a U.S. passport. She also said he had the means to flee, noting that he was carrying $15,000 in cash when he was arrested and had access to a safety deposit box containing more than $430,000, even though he claimed his personal net worth is about $35,000.

"The information that’s been provided to me indicates that Mr. Yin does prove a risk of flight," Netburn said. "The fact that there is this passport he’s carrying with him makes me wonder what his purpose is," she said. "A passport he kept in his proverbial back pocket should he get into trouble."

Prosecutors say they have evidence that Ng wired at least $19 million to U.S. bank accounts and individuals. Ng and Yin were en route to leave the U.S. from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on a private plane when they were arrested, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal said.

Shroff declined to comment after court.

The case is U.S. v. Ng, 15-mj-03369, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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