Wall Street giant, Goldman Sachs, is paying US$2.9 billion in a coordinated global settlement with regulators and law enforcement for its role in the bribery scandal involving the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) order found that senior executives at the firm helped bribe high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi in order to win underwriting business from the fund, which raised US$6.5 billion in a series of bond offerings.
The SEC said the firm is paying over US$1 billion to settle its charges of corruption violations. As well, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay over US$600 million in disgorgement and a US$400 million civil penalty, with the disgorgement satisfied by payments to the Malaysian government and the fund in a related settlement.
Goldman Sachs entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).
And, as part of the settlement, GS Malaysia pled guilty to violating anti-bribery rules in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
“Goldman Sachs today accepted responsibility for its role in a conspiracy to bribe high-ranking foreign officials to obtain lucrative underwriting and other business relating to 1MDB,” said Brian Rabbitt, acting assistant attorney general, in a release.
“Today’s resolution, which requires Goldman Sachs to admit wrongdoing and pay nearly $3 billion in penalties, fines, and disgorgement, holds the bank accountable for this criminal scheme and demonstrates the department’s continuing commitment to combatting corruption and protecting the U.S. financial system,” he added.
The Hong Kong-based arm of Goldman Sachs is paying a US$350 million fine in a settlement with Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for failings in its supervisory, risk, compliance and anti-money laundering controls. The SFC said these failings contributed to the misappropriation of US$2.6 billion from 1MDB following the bond offerings.
Goldman’s Asian division received US$210 million in revenue from its role in underwriting the bond offerings, which generated a total of US$567 million for the firm overall.
“The 1MDB fraud is a stark reminder to financial intermediaries involved in multi-jurisdiction transactions of the importance of having robust internal controls in place and taking all reasonable steps to protect the integrity of their operations and their clients from frauds and other dishonest acts,” said Tom Atkinson, executive director of enforcement at the SFC. Atkinson was formerly head of enforcement at the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).
Former Goldman executive, Tim Leissner, previously pled guilty to criminal charges in the U.S. for conspiring to pay bribes and kickbacks to various government officials to obtain the underwriting business for the firm.
Earlier this year, Goldman also settled with the Malaysian government for US$3.9 billion, including US$2.5 billion in cash and US$1.4 billion in seized assets.