Goldman Sachs admitted its Malaysian subsidiary “knowingly and willingly” conspired to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because some former employees paid bribes to officials there in connection with the looting of a sovereign wealth fund, a scandal that toppled that country’s leader and triggered criminal cases that spanned the globe.
The subsidiary pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on Thursday in Brooklyn federal court, and the bank itself entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement to resolve one of the biggest scandals in the Wall Street giant’s long history.
All told, Goldman will pay billions in penalties and disgorgement in Malaysia, the United States and Hong Kong for its role in the looting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund. The scandal ultimately brought down the government of Malaysia’s prime minister at the time, Najib Razak, and turned a financier with expensive tastes named Jho Low into an international fugitive.
As part of the plea deal, Goldman has agreed to a statement of facts compiled by federal authorities that it will not be able to dispute.
More than $2.7 billion raised for the fund in bond offerings arranged by Goldman financed lavish lifestyles for powerful Malaysians, including friends and family of Mr. Najib. The money bought paintings by van Gogh and Monet, a mega-yacht docked in Bali, a grand piano made of clear acrylic that was given to a supermodel as a gift, and a king’s ransom in jewelry. Pilfered money also financed a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, a share of the EMI music publishing portfolio and the Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Goldman Sachs earned $600 million in fees to arrange the bond sales.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.