SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's leader-in-waiting said it would be "inexcusable" if Goldman Sachs Group were complicit in the scandal surrounding state investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), calling it a failure of governance by financial institutions.
There are ongoing discussions about recovering money from financial institutions including Goldman, Anwar Ibrahim said in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the New Economy Forum (NEF) in Singapore. He is expected to replace 93-year-old Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister in a year or two.
Goldman has been under scrutiny for years for its role in raising US$6.5 billion (S$8.9 billion) for 1MDB and for the nearly US$600 million in fees and commissions it earned from the bonds.
1MDB is at the centre of a global scandal involving claims of embezzlement and money laundering, which have triggered investigations in the US, Singapore, Switzerland and beyond.
"They must understand that to be complicit to the excesses and crime, is inexcusable and in the process the country and the people suffer," Anwar said in response to a question on whether he plans to meet Goldman executives who are also attending the NEF forum.
"We must get hold of every cent that has been taken out of the country by either the leaders or those complicit in this action."
"We need to go to due process, but if they are prepared to negotiate, they have to return" about US$600 million of the fees and commissions, he said, adding that he has no plans to meet Goldman executives in the city-state as investigations are ongoing.
In the first charges against individuals by US prosecutors made public last week, at least three senior current or former Goldman executives were implicated, with its lead banker for the bond sales confessing to bribery and money laundering.
Goldman has previously said it believed the money it was raising for 1MDB would be used for development projects, and that fees and commissions "reflected the underwriting risks" it had assumed.
Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak is facing several charges of wrongdoing related to 1MDB, and has pleaded not guilty.