Goldman Sachs’ 1MDB case proceeds to High Court

(Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia completed the transfer of criminal cases against the three Goldman Sachs Group Inc units facing charges linked to 1MDB to a higher court.

The High Court granted the application to move Goldman Sachs Singapore Pte’s case from the Magistrate’s Court, after previous attempts to do so were unsuccessful as the unit hadn’t successfully been served the court summons.

“It’s good news that everything was settled and the case has been transferred,” Aaron Paul Chelliah, deputy public prosecutor, said in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. “At least one step in the process is complete, so it’s a big development for us.”

The step helps advance the 1MDB proceedings that have languished since Malaysia dragged the US bank into its first criminal case more than a year ago.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas expects the trial to begin in the middle of the year, while saying he’s ready to press ahead with the prosecution by bringing Goldman’s current and former directors to court.

1MDB is at the centre of global investigations into corruption and money laundering, with US prosecutors alleging US$4.5 billion was siphoned from the troubled state fund.

The scandal has roiled Malaysian politics and led to lifetime bans against Goldman bankers, including Andrea Vella and Tim Leissner, from the financial industry. Leissner has pleaded guilty in the US to charges, including conspiring to launder money.

Malaysia accused Goldman of misleading investors in arranging US$6.5 billion in bond sales for 1MDB, while allegedly knowing the money would be misappropriated.

Prosecutors are seeking fines in excess of both the US$2.7 billion of allegedly misused funds and the US$600 million in fees the bank received on the deals.

Goldman has previously said it would “vigorously contest” the charges.