Malaysia says Goldman has fallen short of any standard; seeks financial penalties plus jail terms
KUALA LUMPUR — Dec. 17, 2018: Malaysia has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two of the U.S. bank’s former employees in connection with a corruption and money laundering probe at state fund 1MDB.
Goldman Sachs has been under scrutiny for its role in helping raise funds through bond offerings for 1Malaysia
Development Bhd (1MDB), which is the subject of investigations in at least six countries.
Malaysia’s Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said criminal charges under the country’s securities laws were filed today against the bank, its former bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low in connection with the bond offerings.
It will seek jail terms as well as billions in fines from Goldman Sachs and four other individuals who allegedly
diverted about $2.7 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said in a statement.
This is the first time Goldman Sachs, which has consistently denied wrongdoing, has faced criminal charges in the 1MDB scandal.
The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate $2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs shares fell 2.2 per cent to $169.20 in active pre-market trade. The last time it traded that low in the regular session was on October 14, 2016. At Friday’s close, the stock was already down 32.2 per cent for the year to date, on track for its biggest annual decline since 2011.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman said the charges were misdirected and the bank would vigorously defend them. The
bank continued to cooperate with all authorities in their investigations, he said.
The U.S. Department of Justice has said about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, including some money that Goldman Sachs helped raise, by high-level officials of the fund and their associates from 2009 to 2014.
Thomas said the offering circulars filed with the regulators contained statements that were false, misleading or with
“Having held themselves out as the pre-eminent global adviser/arranger for bonds, the highest standards are expected of Goldman Sachs. They have fallen short of any standard,” Thomas said.
Prosecutors would seek fines against the accused well in excess of the allegedly misappropriated $2.7 billion bond
proceeds plus $600 million in fees received by Goldman Sachs, he said.
Malaysia would also seek jail terms of up to 10 years for each of the individuals accused.
Thomas accused the four individuals charged of conspiring to bribe Malaysian public officials in order to procure the
selection, involvement and participation of Goldman Sachs in the bond issuances.
U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against the former Goldman Sachs bankers, Leissner and Ng, last month.
Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Ng, detained in Malaysia, is facing extradition to the US.
Lawyers for Leissner and Ng could not be reached immediately.
Loo, against whom Malaysia brought other 1MDB-related charges this month, has not commented on the 1MDB case and her whereabouts are not known.
Low, whom authorities have described as a central figure in the suspected fraud, maintained his innocence.
“As has been stated previously, Mr. Low will not submit to any jurisdiction where guilt has been predetermined by politics and there is no independent legal process,” Low’s spokesman said in a statement.
Thomas also said the fees received by Goldman Sachs for the bond offering were higher than prevailing market rates.
Goldman has said the fees related to additional risks: It bought the unrated bonds while it sought investors and, in the case of a 2013 bond deal which raised $2.7 billion, 1MDB wanted the funds quickly.
The 1MDB scandal was a major reason for former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s shock election defeat in May. He has been charged with corruption over the scandal and has pleaded not guilty. — Reuters