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Goldman Sachs Sues Malaysia Over 1MDB Settlement Dispute, Prolonging Legal Battle

Goldman Sachs has filed a lawsuit against the government of Malaysia, alleging that the nation has failed to acknowledge certain payments as part of the 2020 settlement related to the 1MDB money-laundering scandal. This legal action marks the latest development in Goldman's involvement in the massive embezzlement scheme linked to the Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB, considered one of the most significant financial crimes in history and a significant stain on Goldman's recent history.

Goldman Sachs Sues Malaysia Over 1MDB Settlement Dispute, Prolonging Legal Battle

In a statement, Goldman Sachs stated, "Today, we filed for arbitration against the government of Malaysia for violating its obligations to appropriately credit assets against the guarantee provided by Goldman Sachs in our settlement agreement and to recover other assets." The complaint has been lodged with the London Court of International Arbitration.

The dispute revolves around the 2020 settlement agreement, in which Goldman Sachs agreed to pay the Malaysian government $2.5 billion for its role in the 1MDB scandal. Additionally, the bank committed to transferring at least $500 million in assets related to 1MDB by August 2022, under the threat of a $250 million penalty. However, a disagreement has arisen between Goldman and Malaysia regarding whether the bank has met this asset transfer requirement.

This legal move by Goldman Sachs prolongs an already protracted legal battle with Malaysia, which was initially expected to conclude with the 2020 settlement. Malaysia's Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has publicly stressed the importance of Goldman honoring its settlement agreement and has not ruled out the possibility of the Malaysian government pursuing its own legal action against the bank.

Johari Abdul Ghani, the chair of a special task force established in 2018 to address matters related to the 1MDB scandal, expressed surprise at Goldman Sachs' actions, stating that the parties were still engaged in good-faith discussions to amicably resolve any disputes. He suggested that Goldman's initiation of arbitration proceedings might be an attempt to divert attention from their obligation to adhere to the interim payment requirement of $250 million under the settlement agreement.

The 1MDB scandal had far-reaching consequences, sending shockwaves through the financial world and leading to the imprisonment of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on charges of abuse of power, money laundering, and criminal breach of trust. US authorities have alleged that $4.5 billion from the fund was misappropriated for purposes including luxury real estate acquisitions, expensive jewelry, and funding the Oscar-nominated film "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Although Malaysian financier Jho Low was believed to be the mastermind of the scheme, US officials have argued that Goldman Sachs played a significant role, contending that the bank could have detected warning signs and potentially prevented some of the misappropriation from the fund. Jho Low remains at large and denies any wrongdoing.

In 2012 and 2013, Goldman Sachs facilitated three bond sales for 1MDB, raising $6.5 billion, a substantial portion of which was ultimately misappropriated. In return, the bank received $600 million in fees, a sum that Malaysia has criticized as excessive. Former Goldman banker Roger Ng was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March for his involvement in the case.

Another former Goldman partner, Tim Leissner, has pleaded guilty to charges related to violating foreign bribery laws in connection with 1MDB and conspiring to launder money. His sentencing is scheduled for March 2024, indicating that the legal consequences stemming from this complex scandal are far from over. By fLEXI tEAM


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