KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 ― Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said he is ready to press criminal charges against Goldman Sachs Inc for its role in the 1MDB financial scandal even as the Malaysian government hopes to settle the case out of court, Bloomberg reported last night.
Thomas told the international financial news wire in an interview that he is preparing to charge up to 17 current and former executives of the US investment bank as they had committed a crime in Malaysia “when the time is right”, adding that an out-of-court settlement does not seem imminent.
“The 17 directors committed crime in Malaysia, which is why they are being charged, so there is no reason why we are not against them,” he was quoted saying.
Thomas added that preparations for trial will continue parallel to negotiations.
“There is still a Pacific Ocean gulf between Malaysia and Goldman Sachs.
“But as far as we are concerned, the door to settlement is always open. They know where we are, they can come and see us if they want to find us,” Thomas told Bloomberg.
The AG added that the prosecution is also looking into claims against other banks, accountants, lawyers and subsidiary players who may also be involved in the 1MDB scandal that may extend beyond his two-year contract that is due to end in June next year.
Thomas, a private lawyer who was hired to lead the 1MDB charges, said he is still undecided if he would ask to extend his contract.
“I am happy with two years in the government, but I am happy to go back to the private sector,” he told Bloomberg.
Malaysia has already charged three Goldman Sachs subsidiaries and two ex-employees in connection with 1MDB last year.
In August, Putrajaya announced it would file additional charges against 17 former and current Goldman Sachs directors, including its vice-chairman Richard J. Gnodde and former partner J. Michael Evans who is now president of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
In the interview, Thomas disclosed that he is seeking compensation of US$8 billion (RM33.12 billion) to US$9 billion (RM37.26 billion) from Goldman Sachs, which includes the bonds worth US$6.5 (RM26.91 billion) the Wall Street Bank had arranged for 1MDB plus interest.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously said Malaysia wants US$7.5 billion from Goldman and hopes for a settlement soon.
Bloomberg previously reported an offer of at least US$2 billion has been made in settlement talks with Malaysia in the US, but Thomas told the news wire that any agreement made with the US government ― which is also conducting its own 1MDB-linked cases ― or any other jurisdiction will not affect prosecution in Malaysia.
Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs and Alibaba representatives declined comment.