Goldman Sachs' role in the 1MDB scandal - in 300 words

  • Published
Goldman Sachs stall on NYSE floorImage source, Reuters

The 1MDB corruption scandal has cast a shadow over Goldman Sachs, raising questions about how much the US investment bank knew about the misconduct.

What is Goldman accused of?

The firm helped raise $6.5bn (£5bn) for the Malaysian development fund, advising on three bond offerings in 2012 and 2013.

Prosecutors allege more than $2.7bn was later embezzled, used to bribe government officials and buy luxury items.

In November, Goldman's lead banker on the deals, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty in US court to participating in the bribery and money laundering schemes.

Malaysia's attorney general then charged Goldman with helping to "dishonestly misappropriate" money from the fund.

He noted that the $600m Goldman earned for its work was "several times higher" than industry norms.

The firm remains under investigation in the other countries, including the US, and is also facing lawsuits from investors.

What does Goldman say?

Goldman says the Malaysia charges are "misdirected".

It says the firm's compliance officers were deceived about aspects of the deal, including the role of Malaysian financier Jho Low, whom the bank had previously rejected as a client.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Tim Leissner, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs' South East Asia operation, is married to model and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons

But news reports have described the firm's former chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, meeting Mr Low and former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mr Leissner, Goldman's South East Asia chairman until he left the firm in 2016, has said the decision to hide information from Goldman's compliance officers was "very much in line" with company culture.

What penalties could Goldman face?

Malaysian authorities are seeking fines of more than $3bn.

Goldman has warned investors of the risk of "significant" penalties and increased the money set aside for legal liabilities to $1.8bn.

As its legal costs surge, it has also said it will withhold millions due to some of its top executives, including Mr Blankfein, pending the outcome of the probes.