Anwar Ibrahim says 'inexcusable' if Goldman Sachs was complicit in 1MDB scandal

Anwar Ibrahim says 'inexcusable' if Goldman Sachs was complicit in 1MDB scandal

Anwar at Bloomberg forum Singapore
Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Nov 6, 2018. (Photo: Bloomberg New Economy Forum)

SINGAPORE: Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim said it would be "inexcusable" if Goldman Sachs was complicit in the scandal surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). 

He was speaking to Bloomberg on Tuesday (Nov 6) in an interview at the New Economy Forum in Singapore. 

It was announced earlier this month that two Goldman Sachs bankers, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, have been charged by US prosecutors in relation to the 1MDB case. 

Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 

According to prosecutors, the two bankers and fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low had conspired to launder the proceeds of fraud involving 1MDB through the US financial system. Some of the laundered funds were then allegedly used to pay bribes to obtain business for Goldman.

The Wall Street financial institution reportedly raised US$6.5 billion in three bond sales for 1MDB, and earned about US$600 million in fees and commissions for the deals - an amount critics said is far in excess of the usual 1 to 2 per cent fees a bank could expect for helping sell bonds.

READ: 1MDB scandal: A timeline

READ: US DOJ says pursuing investigations related to Malaysia's 1MDB

"We need to go through due process, but if they (Goldman Sachs) are prepared to negotiate, they need to return (the money).

"We are talking about US$600 million of commission. They (Goldman Sachs) must understand (that) to be complicit to the excesses and crime is inexcusable," said Anwar in the Bloomberg interview. 

"We must get hold of every cent that had been taken out from the country, by either the leaders or those complicit in this action," he added.

READ: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak claims trial to 25 charges of abuse of power, money laundering

Goldman Sachs has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities. It said in a securities filing on Friday that it may face penalties from dealings with 1MDB.

Speaking at the forum, Anwar, the de facto leader of Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Rakyat said it was "failure of governance" that led to the 1MDB scandal. 

"I mean, you allow corrupt leaders to squander as much as possible, and the elites were mute and complicit to the crime. International financial institutions, and Goldman Sachs of course, so many others," he told the audience. 

"I think the lesson that we have learned - first, bring back order to our house, bring back good governance. But also give a strong message that this must end."

Source: CNA/Agencies/aa(gs)

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