No plans yet for legal action against Goldman in the US

Govt has no intention to file a lawsuit as the focus now is on the trials of existing criminal cases

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By BLOOMBERG

The government has no intention to file a lawsuit or take any immediate legal action against Goldman Sachs Group Inc in the US for the latter’s alleged involvement in the multibillion-ringgit scandal plaguing 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong said Malaysia has no plans to do so as it is focusing on trials against the investment bank and other individuals linked to the 1MDB case in Kuala Lumpur.

“At the moment, the government has no intention to file a lawsuit or take any legal action in the US against Goldman Sachs or any other parties involved in the recovery of money misappropriated from 1MDB, as our focus now is on the trials of existing criminal cases,” he said.

Liew said this in a written reply to a question by Lim Lip Eng (Pakatan Harapan-Kepong) who asked if the government would file a lawsuit or take any legal action in the US against the New York-based bank and other parties linked to 1MDB.

In December last year, Malaysian prosecutors charged three of the investment bank’s units and two of its former executives Tim Leissner and Roger Ng Chong Hwa for their roles in diverting US$2.7 billion (RM11.04 billion) in the issuance of bonds that would raise proceeds for the state development fund.

They were charged together with ex-1MDB employee Jasmine Loo Ai Swan and financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, who has been accused of orchestrating the fraud.

Malaysia is seeking US$7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs — an amount described as “extremely reasonable” by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng — for its role in arranging three 1MDB bonds worth US$6.5 billion for a hefty fee of US$600 million in 2012 and 2013.

The Wall Street firm is also facing several lawsuits in the US for its involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

In November 2018, Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co and its subsidiary, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd, sued Goldman Sachs for engaging in an international conspiracy to embezzle millions from the state fund.

The court summons stated that the firms were seeking “damages and other appropriate relief for the significant financial exposure and losses suffered” as a result of fraudulent and illegal acts.

A month later, two more lawsuits were filed at the district court in New York on behalf of investors who claimed that they were misled over the bank’s involvement in 1MDB.

However, the law firms which had filed the cases did not disclose how much the investors were seeking in damages.

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) had recently imposed a permanent ban on Leissner and Ng from the industry for coordinating bond offerings that allowed funds to be stolen from 1MDB.

In its statement on Tuesday, the Fed said some of the money was allegedly used to bribe government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, and to pay for their lavish lifestyles.