Officials Meet to Coordinate Goldman Approach Over 1MDB
(Bloomberg) -- Law enforcement officials from the U.S., Malaysia and Singapore are meeting near Kuala Lumpur for a second day to coordinate their legal approaches toward Goldman Sachs Group Inc. over its work raising money for scandal-plagued state fund 1MDB, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The meetings are taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday and include representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the attorney generals’ offices in Malaysia and Singapore, the people said, asking not to be identified. Officials from Singapore’s white-collar police are also attending, the people said.
Goldman is facing scrutiny in all three countries over its role helping 1MDB raise more than $6 billion in bond sales that generated some $600 million in fees for the bank. Malaysia has filed criminal charges against three Goldman entities, while U.S. prosecutors have charged two former bankers at the firm. Singapore is planning to seek a deferred-prosecution agreement with Goldman, one of the people said.
The DOJ “will continue to work collaboratively with our domestic and international partners, including Malaysia, to identify and, where possible, seek to forfeit the proceeds of this corrupt scheme,” said spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman.
In a statement on Twitter, Malaysia’s finance ministry confirmed it held a meeting on Tuesday with U.S. representatives to discuss the first transfer of funds recovered from seized 1MDB assets. Authorities in Singapore didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, while a spokeswoman for Goldman declined to comment.
Authorities in the three countries will continue to pursue legal actions related to 1MDB independently while keeping each other informed, two of the people said. Goldman has previously said it continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating the matter.
Roger Ng, a former Goldman banker, is in plea talks to avoid a U.S. trial on charges that he broke American anti-bribery laws and conspired to launder money embezzled from 1MDB. Ng, a Malaysian citizen, is also facing charges in his home country. Malaysia’s Attorney General Tommy Thomas said Ng was extradited on a warrant that allows him to remain in U.S. custody for up to 10 months.
Former senior Goldman banker Tim Leissner earlier pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Malaysia and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing Goldman’s internal accounting controls. Ng was Leissner’s deputy and left Goldman in 2014. He was detained in Kuala Lumpur in November after the U.S. charges were made public.
Goldman has sought to depict Leissner and Ng as rogue employees who kept the firm in the dark about their 1MDB dealings. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon on April 30 said Goldman hasn’t begun talks with the DOJ over how to best resolve its role in the scandal.
The past week brought signs that U.S., Malaysian and Singaporean officials are increasingly willing to cooperate to get the the bottom of the global scandal surrounding 1MDB. Malaysian officials had previously insisted on delaying Ng’s extradition to prioritize the country’s own case against him.
U.S. and authorities are returning about $200 million of funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB to Malaysia, while Singapore is returning some $26 million that was previously surrendered by Ng, Bloomberg reported last week. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday confirmed that the U.S. and Singapore have returned money, and said he hopes to recoup $7 billion of funds related to 1MDB.
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