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Goldman Sachs to Pay $2.5Bn to Make 1MDB Scandal Go Away

July 27, 2020

by Howard Haykin



Between 2009 and 2012, Goldman Sachs bankers raised $6.5 billion for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDb), a Malaysian state-owned investment fund. The firm earned upwards of $600 million in banking fees. Along the way, up to $4.5 billion of those funds disappeared – allegedly stolen by people who worked for the fund, government officials and 2 senior Goldman bankers.



On Friday, Goldman Sachs and Malaysian government prosecutors reached a $3.9 billion settlement. Goldman will pay $2.5 billion and cover any shortfall from the sale of $1.4 billion in assets that were seized by the government of Malaysia. In exchange, Malaysia will drop all criminal and regulatory proceedings involving Goldman Sachs and certain current and former directors. Among the assets up for sale: a $250Mn yacht, several hotels in the United States, a $35Mn jet, and an Oscar that once belonged to Marlon Brando.  


Goldman Sachs will now try and reach a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which threatens to charge the firm and certain of its units with violating U.S. Antibribery Laws in connection with the 1MDB offerings. The DOJ reportedly seeks a $2 billion fine and a guilty plea. Goldman Sachs hopes that, in response to Friday’s settlement, the DOJ will drop the criminal charges and reduce the size of any fine.


Last December, former Goldman Sachs managing director Tim Leissner agreed to forfeit $43.7 million in illicit payments that he received for his role in using a 3rd-party intermediary to bribe high-ranking foreign government officials in order to secure lucrative businesses for Goldman Sachs. The forfeiture was part of Leissner's settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which also barred Leissner from the industry.



[For further details on the settlement, click on … NYTimesCNBC, CNN, WSJournal (subscriptions may be  required)]

[For details on the SEC Settlement with former Goldman MD Tim Leissner, click on ... Financialish (All That's Goldman Does Not Glitter).]

[For a chronology of the 1MDB Scandal, click on … BusinessInsider (Aug 2019).]