KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is considering asking the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to get Goldman Sachs to return nearly US$600 million (S$802 million) in fees it earned from bonds raised for the scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), two sources familiar with the matter said yesterday.
The Malaysian authorities want to ask the DOJ, which is pursuing a corruption and money laundering probe into 1MDB, to get Goldman to disgorge profits it made from the sale, after which Kuala Lumpur would claim the money, both sources said.
No formal request has been made to the DOJ, but top officials are actively discussing the plan within the government, the sources added.
“There have been no official requests yet, but this is being discussed,” said a Malaysian government source.
A financial industry source in Malaysia, who is aware of the discussions, said back channel talks between the government and the DOJ were underway.
How Kuala Lumpur would go about claiming the funds and the legal hurdles in the process were not immediately made clear by the sources.
A third source familiar with the matter has said Malaysia is also preparing an arrest warrant for Mr Roger Ng, a former Goldman banker.
Goldman raised nearly US$6.5 billion in three bond sales between 2012 and 2013 for 1MDB, a state fund founded by former prime minister Najib Razak, who was ousted in a general election last month.
The US bank earned almost US$600 million for the three deals – an amount critics say far exceeds the normal 1-2 per cent fees a bank could expect for helping sell bonds.
More than US$2.5 billion raised from those bonds was misappropriated by high-level 1MDB officials, their relatives and associates, according to DOJ civil lawsuits filed in a US court in 2016.