Straits Herald December 20, 2019

Goldman Sachs is in talks with American authorities to admit guilt and pay a massive fine in the 1MDB bribery scandal to end a US criminal probe, according to a report on Thursday.

The global finance giant is near an agreement with the Justice Department on a fine of close to $2 billion in the corruption case involving the Malaysian government’s investment fund, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for the bank declined to provide details on the possible settlement.

“Resolution discussions are ongoing and it is irresponsible to speculate on an outcome,” she told AFP by email.

Malaysia’s extraordinary 1MDB corruption scandal allegedly saw top officials loot billions from a state fund and go on a worldwide spending spree — buying up super-yachts, paintings by Van Gogh and Monet and financing a Hollywood blockbuster. 

The Justice Department has said more than $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB by high-level officials at the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2015.

Goldman helped raise $6.5 billion for the fund, and two ex-bankers are accused of misappropriating billions, bribing officials and giving false statements in relation to bond issues they arranged for the fund.

As part of the deal, an Asian subsidiary of Goldman, rather than the parent company, could plead guilty to the bribery charges, admitting that it ignored warning signs as the funds were looted, according to The Journal.

The bank also could accept an independent monitor to oversee changes to its procedures, the report said.

Former Goldman executive Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering conspiracy charges in the case, and agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry.

The scandal brought down Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak, who has pleaded not guilty.

Malaysia’s government also has filed criminal charges against Goldman. – AFP