Goldman Sachs to pay $3 billion over 1MDB scandal

(BRIAN C. RABBITT, ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL DIVISION): “We are here today to announce enforcement actions of historic significance….”

Powerhouse investment bank Goldman Sachs on Thursday agreed to pay nearly $3 billion to settle a probe into its role in Malaysia’s 1MDB corruption scandal, ending a long-running saga that has dogged the bank for years.

The bank’s Malaysia unit also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate foreign bribery laws, said Brian Rabbitt, acting head of the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division.

“These charges stem from Goldman Sachs's central role in a massive global scheme to loot billions of dollars from the government-run Malaysian investment fund known as 1MDB, and the subsequent use of those funds by senior Goldman bankers and their co-conspirators to pay billions of dollars in bribes to senior government officials around the world.”

The scandal dates to the government of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, which set up the 1MDB fund in 2009.

The Justice Department estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level fund officials and their associates.

“Billions of dollars were later stolen from 1MDB, some of which was then used to bribe corrupt officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, as well as others. These criminal proceeds were laundered through the United States and other financial institutions and used to make extravagant purchases around the world, including high-end real estate, yachts, art and other luxury goods.”

In November 2018, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers tied to the scandal.

Goldman CEO David Solomon in a staff memo Thursday said (quote), "We recognize that we did not adequately address red flags and scrutinize the representations of certain members of the deal team.”

Prosecutors say the more than $2.9 billion settlement deal was the largest penalty ever paid by a U.S. company in a criminal foreign bribery case.