|1Malaysia Development Bhd|
|Key People||Najib Razak, former prime minister of Malaysia and 1MDB's chairman|
1MDB, or 1Malaysia Development Bhd, was a Malaysian, state-owned investment fund founded in 2009 aimed at promoting development in the country. It raised $8 billion in bond sales but was plunged into international investigations of the fund and of its participating banks, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Much of the money raised for the fund has gone missing, leading to investigations in Malaysia, United States and Europe.
The fund was created in 2009 by then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who served as 1MDB's chairman.
The US Department of Justice said its investigation into the matter revealed that $4.5 billion of the funds were stolen. Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were arrested along with several close associates on July 2, 2019.
Leaked information from investigators alleged that Najib had siphoned off $713 million just ahead of the 2013 election, allegedly for political payoffs, credit card bills and shopping for his wife. Najib denied the allegations.
The funds were run in part by Malaysian businessman and consultant, Jho Low, who allegedly bankrolled billions in expenditures for properties in Beverly Hills and New York, lavish parties and gifts to celebrities.
In 2015, The Wall Street Journal and British journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown were given 227,000 documents detailing the fraud. The Malaysian anti-corruption agency MACC began its investigation when Najib fired the attorney general, Abdul Gani, who had been leading the investigation, along with deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and as four other ministers. The MACC offices were raided and four officials were arrested. Najib's appointed attorney general cleared him of all charges in 2016.
Mahathir Mohamed, the former prime minister, ran against Najib and won in the May 2018 election. He immediately launched an investigation seizing jewelry valued at $273 million. In July 2019, Najib and his wife were arrested in connection with the missing money that went into his personal bank account. He has 25 charges levied against him ranging from bribery to transferring money to associates. Rosmah Najib was arrested and charged with 17 counts of money laundering.
Low has not yet been found by Malaysian authorities.
Goldman Sachs was heavily involved in 1MDB, helping to sell more than $6 billion in bonds to investors. Two former Goldman Sachs executives connected to the case were barred from working in the banking industry in March 2019. Tim Leissner, a Goldman banker in Asia, pleaded guilty in a US federal investigation and was ordered to forfeit $44 million and pay a fine of $1.4 million. Roger Ng, another Goldman executive, was charged in the US with participating in money laundering and bribery. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in May 2019.
In July 2019, Deutsche Bank came under scrutiny. The US Department of Justice reportedly was investigating the bank in July 2019 for its possible role in corruption or money laundering with 1MDB. The bank helped raise $1.2 billion for the fund in 2014. A Wall Street Journal story said prosecutors were investigating Tan Boon-Kee, who worked with Leissner at Goldman Sachs and then moved over to Deutsche Bank. The bank said it cooperated with authorities and that 1MDB made "material misrepresentations and ommission to Deutsche Bank officials."
In January 2019, Malaysia demanded Goldman Sachs pay $7.5 billion in reparations. In October, Bloomberg reported that Malaysia discussed a $2-3 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. The report said that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was keen to reach a deal while the country struggles with high debt.
- How Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal Shook the Financial World. Bloomberg.
- Deutsche Bank 'faces US investigation' over work for Malaysia's 1MDB fund. Guardian.
- Former Malaysian PM Najib arrested in $4.5bn 1MDB probe. Guardian.
- 1MDB scandal explained: a tale of Malaysia's missing billions. Guardian.
- Former Goldman Sachs Banker Pleads Not Guilty in Malaysia Fraud Case. New York Times.
- U.S. Investigating Deutsche Bank’s Dealings With Malaysian Fund 1MDB. The Wall Street Journal.
- Malaysia, Goldman discuss smaller penalty over 1MDB scandal: Bloomberg. Reuters.