Thursday 19 December 2019 4:01 pm

Goldman Sachs reportedly in talks to admit guilt and pay $2bn to settle 1MDB probe

Goldman Sachs is in talks with the US government to pay a $2bn (£1.5bn) fine and admit guilt to resolve a criminal investigation into its role in the Malaysian 1MDB corruption scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The bank and US officials have discussed a deal under which a Goldman subsidiary in Asia would plead guilty to violating US bribery laws, the paper reported.

Read more: US strikes deal to recover $1bn from fugitive 1MDB financier

The negotiations also reportedly involve Goldman installing an independent monitor to recommend and oversee changes to its compliance procedures. 

Three federal regulators – the US Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve are reportedly involved in the discussions.

In a statement, the bank said that settlement talks are ongoing and it continues to cooperate with regulators.

The development comes after the US Justice Department struck a deal in October to recover $1bn (£773m) of funds allegedly looted from a Malaysian state investment fund by fugitive financier Jho Low.

US authorities estimate that around $4.5bn of funds were siphoned from 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded in 2009 by then Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

Goldman has been investigated by regulators in at least 14 countries, including the United States, Malaysia, and Singapore, for its underwriting role and what it did and did not know at the time of the transactions.

Last November the Justice Department brought charges against two former employees of the bank, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng.

The charges said that Goldman had earned over $600m in fees from its work with 1MDB, out of which Leissner and Ng received large bonuses.

Read more: Malaysia charges 17 current and former Goldman Sachs staff in 1MDB case

The bank has repeatedly tried to distance itself from the scandal, saying the two had concealed their criminal activities from management.

City A.M. has contacted Goldman Sachs for comment.