Former finance minister: Even Goldman says US$1.4b in assets are those seized by governments

Lim said Goldman was the party that was benefiting the most from the settlement. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Lim said Goldman was the party that was benefiting the most from the settlement. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — US investment bank Goldman Sachs has effectively acknowledged that the US$1.4 billion (RM5.8 billion) in assets from its settlement with Putrajaya were those already confiscated by law enforcement globally, Lim Guan Eng pointed out today.

The former finance minister cited a Goldman Sachs release that explicitly said the sum was from “assets related to 1MDB seized by governmental authorities around the world.”

The bank also said it saw no significant exposure from that portion of the settlement, which was on top of a US$2.5 billion cash payment to settle criminal charges that Malaysia filed against Goldman and its directors over a bond issue conducted on behalf of 1MDB.

“In other words GS is asserting that its US$1.4 billion guarantee that Malaysia would receive from assets related to 1MDB seized by government authorities throughout the world will not likely cause GS to make any significant payments.

“GS exposure is likely limited to the US$2.5 billion cash payment committed by GS,” Lim said in a statement today.

Goldman’s remarks vindicated former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas who made the assertion when disagreeing with the settlement previously, Lim added.

Thomas said last week that the US$1.4 billion in assets to be recovered were already included in the US Justice Department’s kleptocracy action over 1MDB.

According to Lim today, this revelation demonstrated that Goldman was the party that was benefiting the most from the settlement as the US$2.5 billion was only third of what the previous Pakatan Harapan government had been trying to secure from it.

He said the government’s lack of response to criticism of the settlement was unbecoming as it implied that Putrajaya was not interested in transparency and public accountability.

Last month, it was reported that the US investment bank has reached a settlement with the Malaysian government over the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.

The two sides reportedly said the deal included a US$2.5 billion cash payout by Goldman and a guarantee by the bank that Malaysia would receive at least US$1.4 billion in assets linked to the bonds.

In December 2018, the Attorney General’s Chambers under Thomas filed four charges against three entities related to Goldman Sachs under Section 179 (c) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 for failing to disclose material facts in a 1MBD bond issue.

The offence was punishable under Section 182 of the same Act by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a minimum fine of RM1 million.

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