Goldman Sachs has been fined a record £2.2billion after turning a Malaysian development fund ‘into a piggy bank for corrupt public officials and their cronies’.
The Wall Street banking titan pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe officials with £1.2billion looted from Malaysia’s 1MDB fund.
Hundreds of millions of pounds more was used to fund the lavish lifestyles of bankers and others involved in the fraud.
On the run: Jho Low, the high-flying Harrow-educated Malaysian financier at the centre of the 1MDB scandal
Last night regulators across the world levied major penalties on Goldman after it formally admitted its role in the scandal.
It brings the total Goldman will have to pay for its involvement in the international debacle to more than £5billion, after it already agreed to stump up £3.3billion to make amends in Malaysia.
But Jho Low, the high-flying Malaysian financier at the centre of the scandal, is still on the run.
Goldman bankers were accused of helping Low funnel billions of dollars out of Malaysia’s 1MDB fund, which was meant to be used for the country’s development.
Instead Low allegedly used the money to buy luxury property, fine art and to finance the Martin Scorsese film The Wolf Of Wall Street.
As Goldman yesterday admitted earning hundreds of millions of dollars while breaking anti-bribery law, regulators unveiled their penalties.
Goldman will return the £456million in ill-gotten fees which it charged when it helped Malaysia raise the 1MDB fund.
In the US it will pay a £950million penalty to the Department of Justice, a £301million fine to regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission, and £116million to central bank the Federal Reserve.
The Bank of England’s regulatory arm and the Financial Conduct Authority together charged Goldman £96.6million. And Goldman will pay £263million to Hong Kong regulators and £92million in Singapore.
Special Agent in Charge Ryan Korner, at the US Internal Revenue Service, said last night: ‘Goldman Sachs admitted that money earmarked to help the people of Malaysia was actually diverted and used to pay bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials to obtain their business.’
Court documents stated that between 2009 and 2014, the bank conspired to pay more than £1.2billion in bribes to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
It wanted to ensure that the 1MDB fund would keep giving Goldman lucrative business. Goldman admitted its former employees Tim Leissner, Roger Ng and another unnamed person looted more than £2billion from the 1MDB fund to pay these bribes.
As a result of the bribery scheme, the bank raked in £456million for its work – an unusually large amount at the time.
US Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt said: ‘Beyond numbers, this case is also significant because it involved a massive corruption scheme carried out by executives of a preeminent American bank that caused significant harm.
‘That harm was borne principally by the people of Malaysia, who saw a fund created to benefit them – and for which they remain financially responsible – instead turned into a piggy bank for corrupt public officials and their cronies.’
Leissner has pleaded guilty to money laundering, and is awaiting sentencing. Ng maintains his innocence, and is due to stand trial in March.
Goldman’s chief executive David Solomon said: ‘While many good people worked on these transactions and tried to do the right thing, we recognise that we did not adequately address red flags and scrutinise the representations of certain members of the deal team.’
Playboy financier STILL on the run
Jho Low, the Malaysian playboy accused of orchestrating the 1MDB scandal, is still at large.
The Harrow-educated businessman is subject to an Interpol red alert, and is believed to be hiding in China.
Party animal: Jho Low (pictured with socialite Paris Hilton) is subject to an Interpol red alert, and is believed to be hiding in China
It was at school when Low, 38, began his networking, becoming friends with Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak who was closely connected to the 1MDB fund.
Low later allegedly used stolen 1MDB money to fund Aziz’s production company, which in turn funnelled the cash into Hollywood films from The Wolf Of Wall Street to Dumb And Dumber 2.
He also bought a stake in New York’s Park Lane Hotel, which has since been sold by authorities and the money returned to the US government.
And in 2011 he reportedly bought a white Ferrari as a wedding present for reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
He maintains his innocence.