18 Dec 2018

Malaysia charges Goldman Sachs and two bankers following corruption and money laundering probe

8:05 am on 18 December 2018

Malaysia has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two former employees in connection with a corruption and money laundering probe at the country's investment fund, 1MDB.

The Goldman Sachs banking application is seen on a smartphone screen on November 15, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

Goldman Sachs is being investigated in at least six countries and calls the charges laid against it by Malaysia "misdirected". Photo: AFP

The US bank has been under scrutiny for its role in helping to raise funds for the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

It is being investigated in at least six countries.

Goldman Sachs called the charges "misdirected" and said it would "vigourously defend them".

"The firm continues to co-operate with all authorities investigating these matters," the bank added.

Malaysia filed the charges against Goldman Sachs and its former bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng.

Mr Leissner served as Goldman's South East Asia chairman, and left the bank in 2016. Mr Ng was a managing director at Goldman until his departure in May 2014.

Last month, Mr Leissner, Mr Ng and Mr Low were served with criminal charges in the US in relation to 1MDB.

Mr Leissner pleaded guilty in the US to conspiring to launder money and violating anti-bribery laws.

In that case, prosecutors said former Goldman bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng worked with Mr Low to bribe government officials to win 1MDB business for Goldman Sachs.

Authorities in the US said billions of dollars were embezzled from the state fund - which was set up by the former Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 - and were used to buy a list of expensive properties, and even finance the Wolf of Wall Street movie.

They allege that among the things bought by the money were:

  • L'Ermitage hotel property and business
  • Park Lane Hotel assets in New York
  • Four California properties
  • Four New York properties
  • One London property
  • A private jet
  • EMI assets, including royalties
  • Van Gogh painting
  • Two Monet paintings

This latest development sees Malaysia also bring charges against former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low.

Malaysia's attorney general Tommy Thomas said in a statement: "The charges arise from from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs."

The scandal has prompted investigations around the world and played a role in the election defeat earlier this year of Mr Razak, who is accused of pocketing US$700 million from the fund he set up.