Malaysia’s top prosecutor said that he is ready to ratchet up a criminal case against Goldman Sachs Group for its role in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) affair by bringing executives of the US bank to court, as the two sides remain far apart following several rounds of settlement talks, reported Bloomberg.
“The 17 directors committed the crime in Malaysia, which is why they are being charged, so there is no reason why we are not going against them,” said Attorney General Thomas.
Thomas is leading Malaysia’s criminal case against Goldman Sachs, which was launched last year when charges were laid against three of the bank’s units. In August 2019, Malaysia announced additional charges against 17 former and current directors, including Vice Chairman Richard J. Gnodde, who heads its international business in London and J. Michael Evans, a former partner who is now President of Alibaba Group Holding.
Thomas said that Malaysia has had two or three rounds of negotiations with Goldman Sachs and remains open to further talks, adding that a settlement remains distant.
“There is still a Pacific Ocean gulf between Malaysia and Goldman Sachs, but as far as we’re concerned, the door to settlement is always open,” added Thomas.
Thomas’s comments contrast with recent reports that Goldman Sachs is making progress in talks with US and Malaysian authorities to put the 1MDB scandal behind it. The bank is said to be negotiating with the US for a $2 billion settlement that would include an admission of guilt by a unit in Asia.
Instead, Thomas said he’s focused on preparing to prosecute Goldman’s units and directors in a trial which he expects to start in the middle of next year. He echoed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in saying Malaysia will seek compensation from Goldman Sachs that includes the $6.5 billion value of bonds the bank arranged for 1MDB, as well as interest. That totals $8 billion to $9 billion, said Thomas.
The Attorney General’s appointment last year was part of Malaysia’s revived probe of the 1MDB scandal, which has also resulted in former premier Najib Razak standing trial on corruption charges.
The state-owned fund is looking into claims against other banks, accountants, lawyers and subsidiary players who may also be involved in the scandal, said Thomas.