KUALA UMPUR: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he may consider a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs Group Inc over its role in the multi-billion dollar scandal involving 1MDB, according to an interview with CNBC.
The government is weighing multiple options beyond just negotiations with the Wall Street firm, Anwar told CNBC’s Martin Soong. So far, the bank has “not been too forthcoming”, he said.
“So there is, of course, discussions on that score, there are other routes to be taken. And I’m not discounting the possibility of proceeding again with the issue of lawsuits,” he said in the interview, excerpts of which were aired on Monday.
Still, he said, the issue was complex and a lawsuit in the US would cost the government a fortune. “But you steal from the people, I will have to get it back,” he said.
1MDB became the centre of a multi-billion dollar scandal that spawned probes in Asia, the US and Europe. Goldman Sachs in 2020 admitted to its role in the biggest foreign bribery case in US enforcement history, reaching multiple international settlements in the billions of dollars to end probes into its fundraising for 1MDB.
Anwar in January had demanded that the US bank honour its 2020 settlement with the previous Malaysian government for its work in raising US$6.5 billion in 2012 and 2013 for 1MDB. He later said the agreement his predecessors hammered out with Goldman Sachs was “too light” and he was re-evaluating the matter.
The settlement announced by the previous administration three years ago called for Goldman Sachs to pay US$2.5 billion while guaranteeing the return of US$1.4 billion of 1MDB assets seized by authorities around the world, in exchange for Malaysia dropping charges against the bank.
Goldman must also make a one-time interim payment of US$250 million if Malaysia has not received at least US$500 million in assets and proceeds by August 2022, according to the bank.
However, the two disagreed over whether the government had received the US$500 million in proceeds by the August deadline, Goldman Sachs said in a filing last year.
“Why must I punish the people of Malaysia by having to pay hefty profits made by them?” said Anwar in the interview, referring to Goldman Sachs.