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1MDB Scandal: The Entire Course of Events

01-24

The Malaysian government is considering legal action against foreign banks involved in the 1MDB corruption case.

The Malaysian government is contemplating legal action against foreign banks involved in the 1MDB corruption case, most notably against the American investment bank Goldman Sachs Group. 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) is one of the biggest financial scandals in Malaysia's history, established in 2009 by the then Prime Minister Najib Razak with the aim of promoting national economic development. However, this state investment fund turned into the center of a massive corruption and money laundering network.

From 2009 to 2014, 1MDB raised billions of dollars in the international bond market. This money was illegally transferred to offshore bank accounts and shell companies, with some funds used to purchase high-end real estate, artworks, jewelry, luxury yachts, and even to finance the 2013 Hollywood film "The Wolf of Wall Street". Allegedly, part of these funds ended up in then-Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank accounts.

Key figures in the case include former Prime Minister Najib, financier Jho Low, and former Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng. Jho Low is believed to be the mastermind behind the scheme, while Najib was convicted for his role in facilitating this vast corruption network, resulting in a 12-year prison sentence. Leissner admitted to money laundering and bribery charges in the United States, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, whereas Ng faces similar charges in both Malaysia and the U.S., and was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Goldman Sachs, in this event, underwrote 1MDB bonds, raising billions for the fund while earning approximately $600 million in fees. Although Goldman Sachs denied any wrongdoing, it ultimately agreed to a $2.9 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, and its Malaysian subsidiary admitted to corruption charges.

The 1MDB scandal caused widespread public outrage in Malaysia, leading to Najib's defeat in the 2018 elections. Recently, investigations into the 1MDB case are nearing completion. Police have completed 80% of their investigation into Roger Ng and have submitted an asset list to the Attorney General's Chambers. Meanwhile, the settlement agreement reached between Goldman Sachs and the Malaysian government over the 1MDB case has sparked controversy, with Goldman Sachs recently applying to the London Court of International Arbitration to resolve the dispute.

The 1MDB case is not just a financial scandal but also reveals vulnerabilities and the detrimental effects of corruption in the global financial system. This case involves multiple countries, including Malaysia, the United States, and Switzerland, extending its impact far beyond finance to international politics and economic relations. The Malaysian government continues to seek justice and compensation to rectify the ramifications of this significant financial scandal.

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