Former Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein met Jho Low, suspect at centre of 1MDB scandal

The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs' then CEO Blankfein had a one-on-one encounter with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, but that was denied by the bank.
The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs' then CEO Blankfein had a one-on-one encounter with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, but that was denied by the bank.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Goldman Sachs Group has said that its former chief executive officer, Mr Lloyd Blankfein, held a meeting in 2012 with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, who is at the centre of the country's fraud and bribery scandal.

The comments come after the New York Times reported that United States prosecutors are examining the meeting as part of a criminal investigation of the bank, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported that Goldman Sachs' then CEO Blankfein had a one-on-one encounter with Mr Low, which was then denied by the bank.

"Blankfein had an introductory, high-level meeting in December 2012 with the CEO of Aabar, which was an existing client of the firm," Goldman Sachs said in a statement, referring to the Abu Dhabi investment fund.

"At Aabar's request, Mr Low accompanied the CEO to that meeting."

He "does not recall any one-on-one meeting with Mr Low nor have we seen any record to suggest such a meeting occurred".

The furore surrounding Goldman Sachs's role in raising money for the Malaysian state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), has weighed on the bank's shares after Malaysia's Finance Minister said he would seek a full refund of all the fees it paid for 1MDB deals.

 
 

The US alleges that a small group of Malaysians diverted money from 1MDB into personal accounts disguised to look like legitimate businesses, and kicked back some of those funds to officials.

Goldman Sachs made US$593 million (S$813 million) working on three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1MDB in 2012 and 2013, dwarfing what banks typically make from government deals.

At least three senior current or former Goldman executives were implicated in the first charges against individuals by US prosecutors.