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April 25, 2019

With DOJ Considering Criminal Charges Against Goldman Sachs, Better Markets Releases Report on the Bank’s Extensive Involvement in the Malaysian 1MBD Corruption Scandal

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Contact: Carol Kaplan, 202-618-6430 or


Washington, D.C. – With the Department of Justice considering criminal charges against Goldman Sachs for its involvement in the 1MDB crime spree and with Attorney General Barr obtaining a waiver to act in the matter even though Goldman Sachs hired his former law firm, Better Markets is issuing a Report detailing the bank’s extensive, multi-year 1MDB involvement and its baseless defenses, which merit the most serious sanctions possible

“Without Goldman Sachs as its banker, underwriter, advisor and validator, there likely would not have been a 1MDB crime spree where possibly more than $10 billion was looted from the people of Malaysia. But, 1MDB is not just about stealing billions of dollars, a global money laundering scheme or a financial scandal; it’s about the corruption and looting of an entire country by enabling an allegedly corrupt politician to get reelected for another five years, when he crushed his political opposition and at least one prosecutor was brutally murdered,” said Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets.

“While most have focused on Goldman Sachs’ pocketing about $600 million over just ten months for three 1MDB bond offerings totally $6.5 billion, too few have considered the bank’s extensive involvement with 1MDB from 2009 through 2014 or Goldman’s critical role in re-electing the allegedly corrupt prime minister. The Report details these activities,” Mr. Kelleher said.

“For example, the day after the $3 billion in proceeds from the third bond offering were deposited in a small private Swiss bank allegedly over the objections of Goldman’s Singapore lawyers, hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted into accounts for the benefit of the then-Prime Minister who was in a very tough reelection race that was being rocked by allegations of corruption. Those funds were allegedly used as bribes to essentially steal the election just two months after the bond offering,” Mr. Kelleher noted.

“The Report also details the many holes in Goldman’s defenses, primarily that a couple of its partners went ‘rogue’ and secretly engaged in widespread criminal conduct. However, this would have required those ‘rogues’ to be criminal masterminds and geniuses who fooled all of the smartest, highest paid bankers in the world; all of Goldman’s risk, compliance, legal and audit systems and controls; and all of Goldman’s management, including then-CEO Lloyd Blankfein, then-COO/later President Gary Cohn and then-co-head of investment banking/now CEO David Solomon. Given how implausible that is, the numerous red flags, internal Goldman dissent over the offerings, and the bank’s extensive involvement with 1MDB, as described in the Report, Goldman’s ‘four monkeys’ defense of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, and keep all the money’ should be rejected,” Mr. Kelleher stated.

“Goldman Sachs’ actions here also raise the most fundamental issues of accountability relating to the double-standard applied to Wall Street’s too-big-to-jail and too-big-to-fail financial giants, which use shareholders money to buy the wealthy and well-connected ‘get-out-of-jail’ free cards. In addition, these actions raise key questions about the wisdom of taxpayers bailing out Goldman and saving it from bankruptcy in 2008. That was supposedly to benefit Main Street because of the crucial role banks have in our economy, but that simply cannot include these types of activities, which benefited no one other than the Goldman financiers who received big bonuses,” Mr. Kelleher concluded.

[The full Report can be found here and a fact/themes sheet can be found here.]


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial saystem that protects and promotaes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit

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