The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice are looking into Goldman Sachs for its actions as an adviser to the 1Malaysia Development Fund Berhad (1MDB), the country's state fund that has been embroiled in scandal since July, when hundreds of millions of dollars were traced from the fund to the personal bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Goldman Sachs has served as an consultant to the group, and now U.S. authorities are gathering information "to determine if the matter will become a focus on any investigations into the 1MDB scandal," a spokeswoman for the FBI told the Wall Street Journal.
At this point, the bank does not face any allegations of wrongdoing, and authorities were reviewing Goldman Sachs as part of a broader examination. The FBI began investigating 1MDB for money laundering in mid-September.
Goldman Sachs served as a consultant to 1MDB when the fund was launched by Najib in 2009 with the purpose of transforming Kuala Lumpur into a global financial nexus. It advised the fund on three acquisitions, including one in 2012 that ended up costing the fund about $740 million. In that purchase, Goldman Sachs helped with financing through its Principal Funding and Investment desk, which effectively used Goldman's own funds to pay for the deal. Goldman also earned $600 million simply in fees to help 1MDB sell $6.5 billion in bonds, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The scandal surrounding 1MDB broke in July, when revelations emerged that $700 million dollars from 1MDB appeared to have been sent, in part via U.S. banks, to Najib's personal accounts. Another $1.4 billion has also reportedly gone missing from the fund.
So far, at least four countries have opened investigations into the 1MDB scandal, even as a Malaysian investigation has been suspended and an anti-corruption commission has cleared the prime minister of wrongdoing. Swiss authorities have opened criminal proceedings "suspected corruption of public foreign officials, dishonest management of public interests and money laundering," the BBC reported, and Singapore and Hong Kong are also investigating.
Goldman Sachs has made a push in the past several years into emerging markets like Malaysia that it sees as being lucrative and filled with less competition.