KL seeks $10b in reparations from Goldman over 1MDB

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is seeking US$7.5 billion (S$10.3 billion) in reparations from the Goldman Sachs Group over its dealings with scandal-linked state fund 1MDB, the Financial Times reported yesterday, citing Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that Singapore has expanded its criminal investigation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to include Goldman, in a sign of increasing scrutiny on the bank's role in the suspected multibillion-dollar money-laundering scheme.

Malaysian prosecutors this week filed charges against Goldman in connection with its role as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1MDB, the first criminal action against the US bank over the scandal.

Goldman has consistently denied wrongdoing, and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to the bank about the proceeds of the bond sales.

In addition to the bonds' total value, Goldman should also return US$1 billion to cover US$600 million in fees paid to the bank and bond coupons that were "higher than the market rate", the FT quoted Mr Lim as saying.

Mr Lim also told the FT that reparations should at least be more than US$1.8 billion, the sum Goldman had told investors it had set aside to cover potential losses related to 1MDB legal proceedings.

"Their figure is US$1.8 billion. Ours is US$7.5 billion," Mr Lim said.

In an e-mailed response to Reuters, a Goldman spokesman said: "The 1MDB bond offerings were meant to raise money to benefit Malaysia; instead, a huge portion of those funds were stolen for the benefit of members of the Malaysian government and their associates."

 
 
 
 

Critics have said the fees earned by Goldman were far in excess of the normal 1 per cent to 2 per cent a bank could expect for helping sell bonds.

Goldman has said the outsized fees related to additional risks: It bought the unrated bonds while it sought investors and, in the case of a 2013 bond deal which raised US$2.7 billion, 1MDB wanted the funds quickly.

Malaysia is not currently negotiating with Goldman, but charges filed on Monday could bring the bank to the table, Mr Lim said.

Malaysia has sought jail terms and billions in fines from Goldman and four individuals who allegedly misappropriated about US$2.7 billion from the 1MDB bond proceeds.

The US Department of Justice alleges that a total of about US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and used to buy, among others, real estate in London and New York, expensive jewellery and artwork, and a private jet.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that Singapore has expanded a criminal probe into fund flows linked to 1MDB to include Goldman.

The authorities in Singapore are trying to determine whether some of the US$600 million in fees that Goldman earned from the three bond deals flowed to the Singapore subsidiary, the report said.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'KL seeks $10b in reparations from Goldman over 1MDB'. Print Edition | Subscribe