Court: Goldman Sachs violated USA anti-bribery laws

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Goldman Sachs headquarters New York City

Global investment bank Goldman Sachs Thursday admitted criminal wrongdoing by a Malaysian subsidiary of the bank in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission filed in NY.

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay almost $3 billion to settle a probe into its role in Malaysia's 1MDB corruption scandal, its Malaysia unit pleaded guilty to violating foreign bribery laws, and the firm is clawing back or cutting pay for executives including current CEO David Solomon. Goldman Sachs became the underwriter or bonds that 1MDB would issue to fund "investment projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people".

But Rabbitt stressed that despite the deal, the company has been charged in the bribery scandal, "so there has been a significant amount of criminal liability" for Goldman and "imposes meaningful consequences" in the cases.

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At the end of July, Goldman Sachs had already agreed with the Malaysian government on a billion-euro payment. According to the watchdog, serious lapses and deficiencies on part of the Hong Kong-based compliance and control hub of the Wall Street bank contributed to the misappropriation of United States dollars 2.6 billion. "Goldman Sachs Asia fell far short of the standards expected of a licensed intermediary in the 1MDB case and suffered not only reputational damage from its own failures, but also brought the securities industry into disrepute".

Goldman says it will withhold or get back some US$174 million in compensation awarded to its executives.

SFC chief executive officer Ashley Alder stresses that the enforcement action the regulator has taken is the result of a rigorous, independent investigation.

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The SEC settlement agreement summarizes the bank's wrongdoing as "a scheme perpetrated by now former senior employees of Goldman Sachs who authorized and paid bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Malaysia and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi ("Abu Dhabi") in order to secure lucrative business for the Company and benefits for themselves". Part of the money also goes to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (US$400 million), the US Federal Reserve (US$154 million) and New York's Department of Financial Services (US$150 million).

It said that Leissner, Ng, Employee 1, and others conspired with Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, to "promise and pay over $1.6 billion in bribes to Malaysian, 1MDB, IPIC, and Aabar officials", aimed at effectuating the scheme. The revenue Goldman Sachs earned from these three offerings alone was more than double the total revenue it generated from acting as an arranger and/or underwriter in 213 other Asia ex-Japan bond offerings in the five years between 2011 and 2015.

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