Trader alleged to have sparked £18b stock market crash during G20 summit is spared extradition
A BRITISH trader facing life in prison in South Korea amid allegations he masterminded an illegal share sale that sparked an £18 billion stock market crash in the middle of the Seoul G20 Summit avoided extradition after a judge said it was "politically motivated" and against his human rights.
Derek Ong, 49, was spared extradition after District Judge Nicholas Rimmer accepted evidence that the bid to prosecute him over the November 2010 crash was likely to be influenced by "national shame" it brought on South Korea, happening in the middle of the fifth G20 Summit being held in the capital at the same time.
Ong would have been the first Briton to be extradited to South Korea, where he is wanted to stand trial for an offence of violating the Korean Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets.
South Korea alleges it was "by manipulating and conspiring with others to manipulate the market price of options via massive
stock sales to obtain profits from derivatives."
Ong was working in Hong Kong as a senior executive for Deutsche Bank, when he allegedly orchestrated the dumping of company-owned shares on the South Korea stock exchange in Seoul on November 11 2010.
It saw the South Korean stock market drop by 2.7 per cent in the middle of the summit, when the country was trying to present itself as a "G20 power house," Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.
The bank reaped a £28.5million profit from the alleged illicit deals, yet there were huge amounts of compensation claims from out-of-pocket investors.
Following a court case in Seoul, in January 2016, the bank was ordered to pay £1.9million in fines and compensation and to repay the £28.5million profits.
Ong, who is serving a 10-year trading ban in connection with the crash, was arrested on an International Arrest Warrant in June 2021 after a 12-year international investigation.
The married father-of-two was on £100,000 bail wearing an electronic tag under nightly curfew at his £1.4million home in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.
He is alleged to have conspired with three other named Deutsche Bank executives and others unknown.
However, Judge Rimmer was concerned by the ten year delay in requesting extradition and its motivation.
Martin Uden, who was His Excellency the UK’s Ambassador to Korea at the time of the crash gave evidence in support of Ong about South Korea's view of "national shame" and the impact of the crash during the summit would have had.
Mr Uden gave an example of the Sewol ferry disaster, which had been felt as a national shame in South Korea, in a way that terrorist attacks in London would not be, however unfortunate.
He said: "Koreans really would feel a corporate sense of shame that a dreadful event like this happened in their country, even though the Koreans involved may have absolutely no real connection to the incident."
In a judgement this month<Oct>Judge Rimmer wrote: "I find the purpose of making the request for Mr Ong, and the underlying prosecution, potentially involved a discriminatory reason, viz. his nationality, bearing in mind the context of the 2010 G20 summit, at the time of the trades in question.
"That context included Korea’s economic history of previously infelicitous transactions concerning foreigners; the focus of
contemporaneous press coverage on the issue of nationality and apparent ongoing frustration at the lack of prosecution of the foreigners involved.
"I have also kept in mind the evidence (which I accept) of both the culture of shame and the political influence on prosecutions, in a context where the then President Lee is currently imprisoned for bribery and corruption. I note that there have also been instances of corruption in the Korean judiciary."
Judge Rimmer also found extradition would breach Ong's human rights due to prison conditions, his risk of suicide and the impact on his family, including his 78-year-old mother, who he is sole carer for, his Indonesian wife and two children aged four and three.