Now Singapore trains its sights on Goldman Sachs over 1MDB

Modified 22 Dec 2018, 8:08 am

Goldman Sachs Group Inc continues to be plagued by legal troubles over its involvement with 1MDB with its inclusion int a criminal probe into the troubled state investment firm.

Since late 2017, Singaporean authorities have been looking into the relationship between 1MDB and Goldman Sachs – which helped raise money for the state fund – but it is only now that the bank's local unit has come under the lens of investigators, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

As reported by Bloomberg today, Singaporean authorities are trying to determine whether some of the roughly US$600 million (RM2.5 billion) in fees – from the three bond deals brokered for 1MDB from 2012 to 2013 – flowed to the Goldman Sachs unit in the country.

This new development is the latest in a series of charges and investigations opened up against Goldman Sachs in relation to the bond deals.

This week, prosecutors here filed charges against Goldman Sachs in connection with its role as underwriter and arranger of the three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion (RM27.16 billion) for 1MDB. This is the first such criminal action against the bank over this scandal.

It was reported yesterday that Malaysia is seeking RM31.34 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs.

Investors in the US also this week filed a class action lawsuit against the US bank and three of its executives, seeking damages over its dealings with 1MDB.

The lawsuit states that Goldman Sachs had made "materially false and misleading statements" regardings its business and operations, which includes the information that "Goldman participated in a fraud and money-laundering scheme in collusion with 1MDB."

Regulatory action

In November, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner and another ex-Goldman banker, along with fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho on multiple criminal charges related to the 1MDB scandal.

Bloomberg reported that Singapore is now coordinating closely with the DOJ, which is also investigating Goldman Sachs.

Sources said Singaporean authorities could use the new deferred-prosecution agreement (DPA) system against Goldman Sachs' local subsidiary.

DPAs are used by countries such as US and UK to police banks and impose billions of dollars in fines over wrongdoing.

Another possibility is that Singapore would settle for regulatory action against Goldman Sach's local unit, the paper added.

Previously, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has slapped Leissner with a lifetime ban after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) over his 1MDB-related charges.

The ban prohibits Leissner, who was Goldman's former Southeast Asia chairperson, from managing any capital markets services firm in the republic and perform any regulated activity under its Securities and Futures Act, among others.

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