Thursday, May 19, 2022

Goldman Sachs officials reach US$79.5 million shareholder settlement over 1MDB scandal

Shareholders had sought to hold Goldman chief executive David Solomon, his predecessor and others responsible for 'conscious disregard of their oversight obligations' as the bank missed 'red flags' of the fraud.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc officers and directors reached a US$79.5 million settlement to resolve shareholder claims that their poor oversight contributed to the bank being enmeshed in the looting scandal at the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.

A preliminary settlement of the so-called shareholder derivative lawsuit was filed on Friday in Manhattan federal court, and requires approval by US district judge Vernon Broderick.

The defendants’ insurers would pay the US$79.5 million to Goldman, which would apply it toward compliance and governance measures, including giving more power to its chief compliance officer and creating an anonymous hotline for employee tips.

US prosecutors have said Goldman helped 1MDB arrange US$6.5 billion of bond sales, but that US$4.5 billion was diverted via bribes and kickbacks to government officials, bankers and others.

Shareholders led by the Atlanta-based Fulton County Employees’ Retirement System sought to hold Goldman chief executive David Solomon, his predecessor Lloyd Blankfein and others responsible for “conscious disregard of their oversight obligations” as the bank missed “red flags” of the fraud.

None of the defendants admitted wrongdoing or liability in agreeing to settle. Goldman spokeswoman Maeve DuVally declined to comment.

The bank previously agreed to pay billions of dollars to authorities in the US and other countries over 1MDB, and in 2020 entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice.

On April 8, former Goldman banker Roger Ng was convicted in Brooklyn, New York of bribery and money laundering charges over his role in the scandal.

Led by the firm Saxena White, the shareholders’ lawyers called the US$79.5 million payout “an outstanding recovery for the company,” and the second-largest shareholder derivative settlement in the federal court circuit that includes New York.

The lawyers plan to seek fees of up to 25% of the settlement amount, or about US$19.9 million, which Goldman would pay.

The case is Fulton County Employees’ Retirement System v Blankfein et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-01562.

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