Goldman Sachs staring at ‘significant penalties’


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 07 Nov 2018

From left: Leissner, Ng and Low.

PETALING JAYA: Goldman Sachs Group has acknowledged that it may receive “significant penalties” resulting from its deals with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

It also recognised that it had weaknesses in its compliance controls, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

In its third-quarter earnings filing to regulators, the investment management firm made citations about the indictment against its former employees for bribery and money laundering involving 1MDB, WSJ said.

Although it had acknowledged that it could face “significant penalties resulting from 1MDB”, Goldman Sachs said it was also cooperating with investigators, the report on Monday said.

According to WSJ, Goldman Sachs wrote in the filing that the indictment alleged the firm’s “system of internal accounting controls could be easily circumvented and that the firm’s business culture, particularly in South-East Asia, at times prioritised consummation of deals ahead of the proper operation of its compliance functions”.

The filing also mentioned that former Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng had “circumvented the firm’s internal accounting controls in part by intentionally deceiving control personnel and internal committees”.

Goldman Sachs is said to have received nearly RM2.5bil (US$600mil) in fees from the 1MDB deal.

Previously, the Financial Times reported that Goldman Sachs had helped 1MDB sell about RM27bil (US$6.5bil) of bonds between 2012 and 2013, two years before the authorities raided 1MDB’s offices to investigate allegations of massive fraud.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Goldman Sachs estimated that possible losses related to litigation proceedings could run as high as US$1.8bil (RM7.49bil) above its total reserves for such matters.

Previously, Goldman Sachs estimated litigation losses to be in excess of US$1.5bil (RM6.24 bil).

The Financial Times also reported that almost 30 people from Goldman Sachs had reviewed 1MDB deal’s approval process.

Meanwhile, in a 2016 indictment, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleged that most of the money raised with Goldman Sachs’ help was siphoned off by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.

The fugitive businessman together with bankers Ng and Leissner were indicted by the DoJ on Thursday for conspiring to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in relation to 1MDB.

Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and to violating anti-bribery laws. He has been ordered to forfeit US$43.7mil (RM182.27mil) as a result of his crimes.

The criminal charges relating to 1MDB are the first by DoJ.

In 2016, the DOJ reportedly recovered over US$1bil (RM4.17bil being the current conversion rate) that was allegedly stolen, and sought the forfeiture of property, including a Bombardier private jet, Manhattan penthouse, Beverly Hills mansion and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

Low is currently wanted in Malaysia and Singa­pore and other countries over investigations into 1MDB.

In a separate report by the Associated Press, PKR incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that Low would be given a fair trial.

Anwar said he was “quite pleased” with developments in the case so far and that investigations in the United States, Malaysia and Singapore and other places were “progressing very well”.

The report also said Anwar had hinted that more former officials could be tried on corruption charges.

Malaysia has applied for a Red Notice to seek assistance from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, China and Hong Kong via Interpol, and Taiwan via diplomatic channels to arrest Low.

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