1MDB: Goldman Sachs finalises $3.9bn settlement with Malaysia

The Malaysian state fund has been at the centre of a global corruption probe and helped to topple the former government.

1MDB stock image
Goldman Sachs helped 1MDB raise $6.5bn, ostensibly for development work in Malaysia, but much of the money was allegedly siphoned off by people connected to former Prime Minister Najib Razak who last month was found guilty of corruption [File: Olivia Harris/Reuters]

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Malaysia signed an agreement to finalize the bank’s $3.9 billion settlement over the 1MDB scandal.

The U.S. bank, which had announced an agreement in principle on July 24, confirmed the formal accord in a regulatory filing late Tuesday in New York. The firm must make a $2.5 billion cash payment to Malaysia within 10 days, people with knowledge of the matter said this week, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

The pact marks a major step toward resolving the scandal surrounding 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund that’s at the center of global investigations into corruption and money-laundering. The deal announced in July called for Goldman to pay $2.5 billion while guaranteeing the return of $1.4 billion of 1MDB assets seized by authorities around the world, in exchange for Malaysia dropping charges against the bank.

The deal helps the bank move on from its worst scandal since the financial crisis, while Malaysia gets to recoup much of the $4.5 billion that prosecutors said were lost from 1MDB at a time when it’s seeking funds for its massive stimulus package.

Over much of a decade, 1MDB has become shorthand for one of the world’s most daring heists — a conspiracy that spawned probes in Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Authorities spent years tracking funds that allegedly flowed from 1MDB into high-end art and real estate, a super yacht and, ironically, the hit Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” chronicling an earlier era of financial crimes.

The case against the bank focused on its work raising $6.5 billion in 2012 and 2013 for the fund formally known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd., much of which was allegedly siphoned off by people connected to the country’s former prime minister. Goldman’s investment-banking group, led at the time by now-Chief Executive Officer David Solomon, collected an unusually high $600 million from the bond sales.

The pact doesn’t resolve other pending governmental and regulatory probes related to 1MDB, including one from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Source: Bloomberg