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December 18, 2018

Goldman Sachs faces criminal charges in Malaysia in 1MDB case

Malaysian authorities have filed criminal charges against American investment bank Goldman Sachs and its two former bankers over involvement in the 1MDB Malaysian state fund scandal.

The ex-Goldman Sachs bankers facing criminal charges for the scandal are Tim Leissner and Roger Ng Chong Hwa. Hwa was the bank’s managing director, while Leissner served as the chairman for Southeast Asia.

The bankers have been accused of working on three bond offerings that fetched around $6.5bn for the fund.

Malaysia attorney general Tommy Thomas said that the bankers secured a portion of the misappropriated bond proceeds, along with large bonuses and improved career prospects.

“The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate USD2.7bil (RM11.3bil) from the proceeds of three bonds issued by subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs,” Thomas stated.

Alongside Leissner and Hwa, criminal charges were also filed against 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low.

Leissner and Hwa allegedly conspired with Low, who is said to be the mastermind of the fraud, and Loo to bribe Malaysian government officials. The aim was to ensure Goldman Sachs’ participation in the bond issuances.

Thomas said that the government looks to impose fines on the accused “well in excess” of the misappropriated bond proceeds and $600m fees secured by Goldman Sachs.

Authorities will also seek prison sentences of up to 10 years for each of the accused, Thomas said.

“Having held themselves out as the pre-eminent global adviser / arranger for bonds, the highest standards are expected of Goldman Sachs. They have fallen far short of any standard. In consequence, they have to be held accountable,” Thomas noted.

Charges have also been made against Goldman Sachs International (UK), the division of the bank that arranged the three bonds. Two other Goldman units — Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte and Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC — are charged with abetting Goldman Sachs International.

However, the bank refuted the charges and called them misdirected.

Last month, Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company sued Goldman Sachs for playing a central role in the 1MDB scandal and bringing significant losses to the firm.


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