AGC charges 17 Goldman Sachs directors over 1MDB bond case

by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by BLOOMBERG

THE Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has filed criminal charges against 17 current and former directors of three subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs Group Inc, in the ongoing investigation against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The new charges were filed last Friday (Aug 9) under Sections 367(1) and 179 of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 against the 17 directors of Goldman Sachs International, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC and Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte Ltd, Attorney General Tommy Thomas said in a statement issued on the same date.

The charges fall under a section of the Act that deems any person who was a director, CEO, officer or representative of the company responsible for offences committed, unless the person is able to prove the offence was committed without their consent, or that they “exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence” in regard to their capacity in the corporation.

Thomas said the accused were directors of the aforementioned subsidiaries between May 2012 and March 2013, the period during which acts giving rise to the Section 179 charges against their companies took place.

“They occupied the highest executive positions in these three Goldman Sachs subsidiaries, and exercised or ought to have exercised decision making authority over the transactions of those bodies corporate.

“Custodial sentences and criminal fines will be sought against the accused in the Section 367 charges, given the severity of the scheme to defraud and fraudulent misappropriations of billions in bond proceeds, the lengthy period over which the offences were planned and executed, the number of Goldman Sachs subsidiaries, officers and employees involved and the relative value of the fees and commissions paid to Goldman Sachs for their multiple roles played in arranging, structuring, underwriting and selling the three bonds,” he said.

The individuals charged include Goldman Sachs Group vice chairman and Goldman Sachs International co-CEO Richard Gnodde, Goldman Sachs International vice chairman Brian Griffiths, and former Goldman Sachs Group vice chairman and Goldman Sachs International co-CEO Michael Sydney Sherwood.

Other Goldman Sachs International directors charged included Robin Antony Vince and Claes Ake Gustaf Dahlback, while Goldman Sachs (Singapore) directors Goh Boon Leng and Liow Chang Lee were charged as well.

At Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, 10 directors were charged, namely Oliver Robert Morgan Bolitho, Matthew Thayer Freemont-Smith, Frederick Towfigh, Archie William Parnell, Ronald Suk Bae Lee, Richard Mark Campbell-Breeden, Keith Leslie Hayes, Amol Sagun Naik, John Michael Evans and Dimitrios Kavvathas.

Malaysia previously filed criminal charges against the three subsidiaries and their key employees Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, together with Jasmine Loo Ai Swan of 1MDB and Low Taek Jho, in December 2018 for “perpetrating a scheme to defraud the government of Malaysia and purchasers of three bonds with a face value of US$6.5 billion (RM27.2 billion)” which were underwritten and arranged by Goldman Sachs, and issued by units of 1MDB, by way of commissioning and abetting false or misleading statements to “dishonestly misappropriated billions from the bond proceeds”.

The move to charge Goldman Sachs Group in December last year was the first time a country had filed criminal charges against the US bank itself.

The US Department of Justice, which has said an estimated US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by its officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014, is currently investigating the investment banking giant for its role in underwriting and arranging the bond sales.