Deutsche Bank faces US Justice Department probe over 1MDB: WSJ

Authorities are examining whether Deutsche Bank violated foreign-corruption or anti-money-laundering laws.
Authorities are examining whether Deutsche Bank violated foreign-corruption or anti-money-laundering laws.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - The US Department of Justice is investigating whether Deutsche Bank AG broke laws during dealings with Malaysia's 1MDB investment fund that included helping it raise US$1.2 billion (S$1.6 billion) in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.

The authorities are examining whether the Frankfurt-based bank violated foreign-corruption or anti-money-laundering laws while working with the economic-development fund, which officials have said was ultimately plundered, the Journal said.

Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc executive who pleaded guilty in a deal revealed last year for his role in 1MDB's scandals, has been helping with the look at Deutsche Bank, the newspaper said.

"Deutsche Bank has cooperated fully with all regulatory and law enforcement agencies that have made inquiries relating to 1MDB," the company said. It pointed to asset-forfeiture documents previously filed by the Justice Department indicating 1MDB misled Deutsche Bank during transactions.

"This is consistent with the bank's own findings in this matter," the firm said in the statement.

Probes into 1MDB have mainly focused on more than US$6 billion it raised in 2012 and 2013. Goldman Sachs handled the deals, reaping almost US$600 million in fees. The bank has since portrayed Leissner as a rogue employee who circumvented the bank's internal controls. Still, the Justice Department expects to start negotiating with the New York-based firm soon to potentially resolve a criminal probe of the bank, the Journal wrote.

"We do anticipate getting into active discussions with Goldman, at this point, in the near future," it cited Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski as saying in an interview. He declined to comment on other aspects of the 1MDB case, it said.