By Ben Otto and Chester Tay
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reached a $3.9 billion settlement with Malaysia in connection with a multibillion-dollar scandal that has plagued the Wall Street bank and rocked the country's politics.
Goldman will pay $2.5 billion in cash and guarantee recovery of at least $1.4 billion in proceeds from assets to resolve claims about bond transactions it helped put together for state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, according to the terms of the agreement announced separately by the bank and Malaysia's Finance Ministry Friday,
The deal ends a yearslong tussle between one of the world's most powerful investment banks and the Southeast Asian nation. The scandal led to the downfall of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is on trial f or money laundering and abuse-of-power charges relating to 1MDB. Mr. Najib denies wrongdoing.
Goldman raised $6.5 billion for 1MDB through three bond sales in 2012 and 2013, much of which U.S. authorities say was stolen by a Malaysian government adviser, Jho Low, and two Goldman bankers. U.S. prosecutors say the bank ignored warning signs about Mr. Low and the fund in pursuit of fees that eventually reached about $600 million. Mr. Low has denied wrongdoing.
U.S. authorities have alleged that more than $4.5 billion went to fraudulent shell companies controlled by corrupt officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
In 2018, Malaysia charged Goldman Sachs International and two Asian subsidiaries of the bank under securities laws for the omission of material information and publishing of untrue statements in offering documents for the bonds. Last year, it filed criminal charges against 17 current and former Goldman Sachs executives over their handling of the scandal at 1MDB.
Goldman said the settlement Friday resolved all criminal and regulatory proceedings in Malaysia involving the bank related to 1MDB, including pending criminal proceedings against subsidiaries and certain of their current and former directors -- excluding former employees Tim Leissner and Roger Ng.
"Today's settlement is an important step towards putting the 1MDB matter behind us and will help enable the Malaysian government to move forward with additional recovery efforts and to execute on its economic priorities," Goldman said.
The bank remains in talks with the U.S. government to settle allegations that it ignored red flags while billions of dollars were looted from 1MDB. It couldn't be determined how the deal reached with Malaysia would affect discussions between Goldman and the U.S. Justice Department.
The settlement doesn't affect Malaysia's claims against Mr. Low and other parties related to the 1MDB scandal, the Finance Ministry said.
Mr. Low's whereabouts remain unknown.
Write to Ben Otto at firstname.lastname@example.org