PETALING JAYA: The Attorney-General Chambers has filed criminal charges against subsidiaries of investment bank Goldman Sachs and its key employees over the handling of bonds issued by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) totalling USD6.5bil (RM27.2bil).
Attorney general Tommy Thomas said that charges were filed against Goldman Sachs' former Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner and former 1MDB employees Jasmine Loo Ai Swan and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
He added that banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa would be charged shortly.
Thomas said Leissner and Ng had conspired with Low, Loo and others to bribe Malaysian public officials in order to procure the selection, involvement and participation of Goldman Sachs in three Bond issuances.
He also said that the Goldman employees had not only received part of the misappropriated bond proceeds, but also received large bonuses and enhanced career prospects at the bank and in the overall investment banking industry.
"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," he said in a statement on Monday (Dec 17).
Thomas said the three bonds were the 10-year USD1.75bil (RM7.32bil) issued by 1MDB Energy Limited, the 10-year USD1.75bil (RM7.32bil) issued by 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited and the 10-year USD3bil (RM12.6bil) issued by 1MDB Global Investments Limited.
Thomas added that the investment bank had benefited by receiving underwriting and arranging fees of approximately USD600mil (RM2.5bil), which was higher than market rates and industry norms.
Thomas also said the Offering Circulars and Private Placement Memorandum for the Bonds filed with the Labuan Financial Services Authority had also contained statements which were false, misleading, coupled with omissions of material.
"Offering Circulars and Private Placement Memorandum are serious documents, intended to be relied on, and, in fact, were relied on, by purchasers of the bonds.
"The scheme designed and crafted by the accused to fraudulently structure the bonds for ostensibly legitimate purposes when they knew that the proceeds thereof would be misappropriated and fraudulently diverted by the accused themselves was planned and executed in order to defraud the Government of Malaysia and the purchasers of the bonds," he said.
Thomas said their scheme had contravened Malaysia’s securities laws, particularly, Section 179 of the Capital Markets and Services Act, 2007 (Act 671).
"Malaysia considers the allegations in the charges against all the accused to be grave violations of our securities laws, and to reflect their severity, prosecutors will seek criminal fines against the accused well in excess of the USD2.7bil (RM11.3bil) misappropriated from the Bonds proceeds and USD600mil (RM2.5bil) in fees received by Goldman Sachs, and custodial sentences against each of the individual accused: the maximum term of imprisonment being 10 years," he said.
He said that if no criminal proceedings are instituted against the accused, their undermining of the financial system and market integrity will go unpunished.
“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,” he said.
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