Malaysia asserts claim for portion of Goldman Sachs fines in 1MDB case

The United States government has been told to pay Malaysia a portion of the US$2.9 billion in fines and penalties imposed on investment firm Goldman Sachs for its involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) controversy.

(NST) – 1MDB asset recovery task force chairman Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said Malaysia was entitled to receive some compensation paid by Goldman Sachs to authorities in the US.

He said while the Malaysian government appreciated the US’ efforts in the recovery of 1MDB funds, it was well below the US$4.5 billion that was siphoned off from Malaysians.

Johari, who is also Plantation and Commodities Minister, said although the New York-based bank would be able to return to doing business as usual, it was Malaysia that would have to suffer and be burdened with the principal and interest payments of the bonds.

“We are at the short end of the stick compared to Goldman Sachs. It will take years, if not decades, for Malaysia to finally pay off 1MDB debts, which will require the use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Reuters reported that US and Malaysian authorities have said US$4.5 billion was siphoned away, with some diverted to offshore bank accounts and shell companies linked to Low, who is now a fugitive.

The bank collected about US$600 million in fees, with its Malaysia unit pleading guilty to a corruption charge.

Meanwhile, Johari described the settlement sum, which was agreed between Goldman Sachs and eighth Malaysian prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration four years ago, as “insufficient.”

He said the amount was not enough to cover the losses caused by fraudulent activities, which he said was made possible with assistance by the bank.

“The US$2.9 billion penalties paid by Goldman Sachs to the US government is more than the US$2.5 billion cash settlement paid to the government of Malaysia, excluding the guarantee of the return of US$1.4 billion assets linked to 1MDB bonds which is still in dispute,” he added.

Johari said Malaysia would continue pursuing the US$1.4 billion outstanding amount from the bank under the settlement agreement.

Two former Goldman bankers, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, had been criminally charged in the case.

Leissner led Godlman’s Southeast Asia business, and had pleaded guilty but had yet to be sentenced.

Ng, a Malaysian, was former head of investment banking and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted in Brooklyn.

He was returned to Malaysia on Oct 8, last year to assist with probes.