Estlund Law is proud to share the news that INTERPOL has removed the Red Notice in the name of our client, Derek Ong, a former executive at Deutsche Bank. After enduring the impact of 13 years of politically motivated charges against him, he has regained the freedom to travel, conduct business, and participate in everyday activities that had been impossible as a Red Notice subject.
Large index arbitrage unwinding leads to market instability despite all precautionary measures
Preceding his Red Notice, Mr. Ong’s employer, Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, was poised to execute a trade to unwind its index arbitrage position in South Korea. This was also the time of the 2010 G-20 Summit event, which was being hosted in South Korea. In the months leading up to the summit, South Korea marketed itself as one of the most sophisticated investment markets in the world.
During the unwinding, which was not particularly large by the standards of most of the world’s liquid futures and options markets, senior executives at Deutsche Bank approved the trade and Mr. Ong and his colleagues conducted the requisite backtesting and also gave all required notifications of the trade. The trade was also spaced out to allow the market to adjust accordingly. Because Deutsche Bank was placing an offshore international order, the trade was approved by a member of the Korean Stock Exchange before it occurred. It was only in the aftermath of the trade that it became clear that the standard backtesting results were inaccurate predictors of the effect it would have on the market due to a liquidity black hole during the G20 summit. This caused the KOSPI response to drop by 2.7 percent, or 2.4 trillion won (USD 2 billion).
This drop and the Korean market’s inability to remain stable caused great embarrassment on a global stage to Korean officials, particularly on the opening day of the G-20 summit.
Public embarrassment leads Korean officials to pursue politically motivated criminal charges
Though Deutsche Bank paid in full for the losses claimed by Korean officials, government officials prosecuted Mr. Ong and other mid-level employees within Deutsche Bank to avoid admitting the shortcomings of the South Korean Exchange systems and regulations.
His life took a drastic turn from working as a respected professional in the financial industry in support of his family to fighting for his livelihood and freedom on multiple fronts. Mr. Ong lost his job and was banned from the stock industry for ten years. Financial institutions were unwilling to work with him based on this case. His otherwise stellar reputation was called into question unjustly.
During the investigation and the criminal court proceedings, Korean officials violated Mr. Ong’s due process rights. They failed to notify him of hearings and changed the charges as the case’s lack of evidence became apparent. Mr. Ong heard nothing of the criminal investigation for eight years until 2019, when he was detained due to the INTERPOL Red Notice that Korean officials had obtained against him.
At this point, Mr. Ong and his family reached out to Michelle Estlund of Estlund Law for help.
Estlund Law has a successful track record of representing individuals who are facing INTERPOL Red Notices based on unfair charges of financial crimes related to public stock market and commodities trading activity, commercial invoice financing, or other investment activities. The firm used that knowledge and experience to build a strong case for removing Mr. Ong’s Red Notice. The focus of his case was the lack of transparency in proceedings, the oppressive delay of the pursuit of charges, the risk of inhumane and degrading treatment of Mr. Ong within the Korean prison system, and the evident political motivation behind the case. Mr. Ong and his family worked closely with the firm to prepare his case and remained strongly united during the entirety of the process.
INTERPOL’s CCF ultimately removed the Red Notice, recognizing “… that there is a predominant political dimension to this case and that maintaining the data challenged would have significant adverse implications for the neutrality of the organization.”
Mr. Ong and his family are also grateful for the contribution of their UK and Hong Kong-based advocates: In the UK, Barrister Ben Keith, instructed by Fiona Haddadeen and led by Mark Summers KC; the team successfully fought extradition while the INTERPOL case was pending. In Hong Kong, Nathan Dentice provided continuous and effective representation since the civil matter began in 2010.
This lengthy ordeal resulted from an action that was not a crime, but an unfortunate outcome of an authorized trade that became politicized. Mr. Ong and his family were elated to receive the news of the Red Notice removal and are working on returning to a normal life.