Malaysia May Reportedly Slash Goldman Sachs' 1MDB Settlement

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 23 October 2019

Malaysia May Reportedly Slash Goldman Sachs' 1MDB Settlement

US authorities have been among those investigating a global scandal originating from Malaysia.

Goldman Sachs and authorities in Malaysia are discussing a settlement of between $2 billion to $3 billion for the US bank's role in the 1MDB scandal, media reports said, citing unnamed sources. Such an agreement, if it comes to pass, contrasts with the firm having to pay $7.0 billion or even more.

The Wall Street firm, which recently issued third-quarter financial results, is being pressured by the Southeast Asian country to pay up what finance minister Lim Guan Eng has dubbed “reparation payments” for its role in handling money linked to 1MDB, a state-run fund that allegedly was used by Malaysian politicians, including its former prime minister, as a slush fund. The scandal has become global, with authorities in Singapore, the US, Switzerland and other countries investigating illicit financial flows linked to Malaysia.

A report by the South China Morning Post said that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants to reach an accord before the end of the year to show progress on his signature pledge to recoup money plundered from 1MDB. He has sent Daim Zainuddin, a confidant outside his cabinet, to serve as a top deal maker, reports said. A sizeable settlement would bolster the country’s fiscal footing, which Mahathir has cited as a reason for delaying handing over power to his former protégé, Anwar Ibrahim, the SCMP said.

At the same time, Goldman Sachs is keen to draw a line under the 1MDB affair as it faces a number of international probes, the report said. 

The US firm earned $600 million from helping 1MDB raise $6.5 billion in 2012 and 2013, much of which later went missing. Malaysia has demanded that the bank shoulder those losses. 

The 1MDB scandal has shocked the world and produced moments of unintended comedy: money from the fund was used to finance the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street, a biopic about a financial crook. 

In Singapore, the local regulator has kicked out banks found guilty of serious lapses in their controls of illicit money, and prompted a fresh wave of soul searching about money laundering.

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