Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s voice mail too little, too late and too paltry – just repay US$600 million to 1MDB to show genuine contrition and take first step back to become a responsible global corporate citizen
Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO David Solomon’s voice mail to Goldman Sachs employees that “This isn’t us” to distance the mega bank from the multi-billion 1MDB scandal is too late, too little and too paltry, when in July 2016 and later in June 2017 in its expanded and updated kleptocratic litigation to forfeit 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, US Department of Justice (DoJ) had listed the “material misrepresentations and omitted facts” of the three 1MDB bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs in 2012 and 2013 and the almost-instant misappropriation and fraudulent diversion of some 40 per cent each of the three bonds.
The guilty plea of Goldman Sach’s former top banker in Asia, Tim Leissner, to two counts of conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in relation to the 1MDB scandal has undermined the mega bank’s attempt to wash its hands of responsibility for the 1MDB scandal.
In his guilty plea in a New York district court on August 28, which was unsealed on November 8, Leissner said others at the bank helped him conceal bribes used to retain business in Malaysia.
He said the culture of secrecy at the investment bank led him to conceal wrongdoing from the company’s compliance staff.
According to the heavily redacted transcript which is available on the Internet, the US district judge Margo K. Brodie warned Leissner that under federal sentencing guidelines he faced decades in prison. Providing useful information to prosecutors might help Leissner get a more lenient sentence and sentencing has been fixed for January 17, 2019.
In his guilty plea, Leissner has agreed to the forfeiture of US$43.7 million. He’s free on US$20 million bail.
Leissner’s Aug. 28 statement to the judge may give prosecutors more leverage to go after the Goldman Sachs and other bank executives for their roles in raising three bonds totalling US$6.5 billion for 1MDB.
Prosecutors say more than US$4 billion was siphoned off by Jho Low and friends and family of the nation’s prime minister at the time, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, among others.
I am very struck by Leissner’s guilty plea as can be found in the redacted transcript.
In his plea, Leissner acknowledged lying to compliance officials at Goldman about the role in the fund played by Jho Low, the mastermind of the 1MDB fraud.
He said: "I knew that concealing Jho Low’s involvement as an intermediary was contrary to Goldman Sachs’s stated internal policies and procedures.
"I and several other employees of Goldman Sachs at the time also concealed that we knew that Jho Low was promising and paying bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials to obtain and retain 1MDB business for Goldman Sachs, for the benefit of Goldman Sachs and myself."
But there is the new mystery over the two New York meetings that the former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein had with Najib, the first time in 2009 and the second time in 2013.
Did these two meetings have any connection with the 1MDB scandal?
Leissner has admitted that he bribed officials in two countries – Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates – to get bond deals for Goldman Sachs. Who are these Malaysian officials?
As Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s voice mail of “This isn’t us” is too little, too late and too paltry – the global titan should just repay US$600 million commissionhn to 1MDB to show genuine contrition and to take the first step back to become a responsible global corporate citizen.
But the greatest question to Malaysians is why Najib is continuing to maintain a thunderous silence on the 1MDB developments and Tim Leissner’s guilty pleas.