Seventeen former and current Goldman Sachs bankers have been charged in Malaysia over the corruption investigation at its state development fund 1MDB.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas said custodial sentences and criminal fines would be sought against those charged.
Goldman Sachs helped raise $6.5 billion through bond offerings for 1MDB.
The bank said it would “vigorously” defend the charges.
Tommy Thomas said in a statement: “Custodial sentences and criminal fines will be sought against the accused.”
According to the statement, this was because of the “severity of the scheme to defraud and fraudulent misappropriation of billions in bond proceeds, the lengthy period over which the offences were planned and executed, the number of Goldman Sachs subsidiaries, officers and employers involved and the relative value of the fees and commissions paid to Goldman Sachs for their multiple roles played in arranging, structuring, underwriting and selling the three bonds”.
If convicted, those charged could face prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of at least one million ringgit ($238,000).
In December 2018, Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two former employees in connection with the corruption and money-laundering investigation at the fund, which is being investigated in at least six countries.
Among the other individuals named by Malaysia’s attorney general are Michael Sherwood, a former co-head of Goldman’s European operations, and Michael Evans, a former partner who is now president of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.
The charges related to what is being seen as one of the world’s biggest financial scandals.
US and Malaysian prosecutors have previously said that the money raised by the state fund went to line the pockets of a few powerful individuals and to buy luxury properties, a private jet, Van Gogh and Monet artworks – and to finance a Hollywood blockbuster, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
These charges have been brought under the under a section of the Malaysian Capital Markets and Services Act that holds certain senior executives responsible for any offences that may have been committed.
According to Malaysian immigration official, former PM Najib Razak has been banned from leaving the country.
The ban comes after Najib Razak said that he and his wife were planning to go on an overseas holiday on May 12.
Earlier this week, Najib Razak’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shock electoral defeat.
Najib Razak has been accused of diverting $700 million from a state investment fund in 2015, but has since been cleared by the authorities.
However, Malaysia’s new PM Mahathir Mohamad, who at 92 became the world’s oldest elected leader when he was sworn in on May 10, has said that Najib Razak could face a fresh investigation if sufficient evidence supports it.
Mahathir Mohamad has said that investigations will take place into alleged corruption in Malaysia, including the case involving the state investment fund.
He stood down as prime minister 15 years ago, but came out of retirement and defected to the opposition to take on and beat former protégé Najib Razak.
According to a Swiss prosecutor, about $4 billion may have been stolen from the Malaysian state-owned fund 1MDB.
The 1MDB fund was set up in 2009 to pay for major new economic and social developments in the country.
In 2015, Swiss authorities opened an investigation into 1MDB after it amassed more than $11 billion of debt.
Switzerland’s attorney general said on January 29 there were “serious indications that funds have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies”.
Some of the money, the office of Michael Lauber said, had been transferred to Swiss accounts held by Malaysian former public officials and current and former public officials from the United Arab Emirates.
“To date, however, the Malaysian companies concerned have made no comment on the losses they are believed to have incurred,” the attorney general’s statement said.
Michael Lauber called on Malaysian authorities to give full judicial assistance to their Swiss counterparts.
A Swiss investigation into 1MDB was opened last year, citing “suspected corruption of public foreign officials, dishonest management of public interests and money laundering”.
In a statement on January 30, 1MDB said it “remains committed to fully co-operating with any lawful authority and investigation”, but had not yet heard from any foreign legal authorities.
Regulators in the US and Hong Kong are also reported to be investigating 1MDB.
The 1MDB’s advisory board is chaired by Malaysian PM Najib Razak, who launched the fund soon after taking office in 2009.
In July 2015, Malaysia’s then-Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail linked a donation of $681 million made to Najib Razak’s account with companies and bodies which had ties to 1MDB.
Abdul Gani Patail was replaced, and, after an investigation, his successor last week cleared Najib Razak of corruption saying that the money was a personal donation by the Saudi royal family to the prime minister’s private bank account.
“I am satisfied that there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly,” said Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali.
Most of the money was later returned, he said.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission said it would seek a review of the attorney-general’s decision.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak has been cleared of corruption in a long-running financial scandal that has gripped the country.
According to the attorney-general’s office, the $681 million that Najib Razak received in his bank account was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.
Critics had alleged the money came from state-owned investment fund 1MDB.
Najib Razak has consistently denied these accusations, but has faced pressure to resign over them.
Anti-corruption officials have previously said he received money as a gift from a foreign funder.
Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali said in a press statement on January 26 that the amount was a “personal donation” from the royal family in Saudi Arabia, transferred between the end of March and early April 2013.
He added that anti-corruption officials had met witnesses including the person they identified as the donor to confirm it.
“I am satisfied that there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly,” Mohamed Apandi Ali said, adding that evidence did not show the donation was used as an “inducement or reward” for Najib Razak to do anything in his capacity as prime minister.
Malaysia held its last general election in May 2013, which returned Najib Razak’s party to power but with one of its poorest showings on record.
The attorney general also said no criminal offence was committed by Najib Razak in relation to three other related investigations and that no further action would be taken.
Speaking in a public address to mark Malaysia’s National Day, PM Najib Razak said he refuses to resign after mass protests, calling for national unity.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets at the weekend, urging the prime minister to step down over allegations he took hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds.
Najib Razak said such protests were “not the proper channel to voice opinions in a democratic country”.
He has denied pocketing $700 million of public money.
The payments, first revealed by the Wall Street Journal, came from the 1MDB state investment fund, which Najib Razak set up on coming into office in 2009.
Najib Razak has removed several leading officials who had criticized his handling of the scandal.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has effectively cleared the prime minister, saying the money was from foreign donors.
Police says about 25,000 people took part in the two-day demonstration at their peak, though Bersih [Clean] – the pro-democracy group behind the rallies – put the figure at 300,000.
During his National Day speech, Najib Razak said it was clear the rest of Malaysia backed the government.
“We will never allow anyone from within or from outside, [to] simply walk in and steal, ruin or destroy all that we have built so far,” the state news agency Bernama quoted the prime minister as saying.
“Let us all remember, if we are not united, lose our solidarity and cohesion, all problems will not be resolved, and everything we have laboriously built will be destroyed just like that.”
Najib Razak said protests which “disrupt public order and only inconvenience the people” did not reflect maturity and were “not the proper channel to voice opinions in a democratic country”.
His coalition, Barisan Nasional, has governed Malaysia since independence 58 years ago.
However, the coalition’s support has declined in recent elections, and its critics have accused it of arrogance.
The movement against Najib Razak has been driven by influential former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed who was also at the rally in Kuala Lumpur on August 30.
Mahathir Mohamed, who led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and was formerly a Najib razak ally, said it was untenable for him to continue in his position.
“There’s no more rule of law. The only way for the people to get back to the old system is for them to remove this prime minister,” he said.
“We must remove this prime minister.”
The rally in Kuala Lumpur was deemed illegal, but was allowed to go ahead, and ended peacefully late on Sunday.
Previous rallies held by the Bersih movement have been dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannon.
Malaysia remains committed to finding flight MH370, said PM Najib Razak on the first anniversary of its disappearance.
Relatives of the 239 missing passengers and crew are holding a series of remembrance ceremonies.
The Malaysian airliner was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished on March 8, 2014. No trace has ever been found.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government has released its official report into the disappearance of flight MH370.
The report contains masses of technical information about the missing aircraft, its maintenance record, the background of the crew, and the various air traffic control and military radar tracking records of the plane.
It appears to offer no significant new information which might explain where the plane went, or what happened to it.
“No words can describe the pain the families of those on board are going through. The lack of answers and definitive proof – such as aircraft wreckage – has made this more difficult to bear,” said Najib Razak in a statement.
He added that the search team had followed the “little evidence that exists” but remained “hopeful” that the plane would be found.
The international search team is focusing on an area of the southern Indian Ocean, approximately 1,000 miles off the coast of western Australia.
Earlier on Sunday, the families of MH370 crew members held a remembrance ceremony at the house of missing in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomez.
“We’re always thinking exactly what happened on that day itself, you know the conversations that we were having, the tears, the hugs that we were giving each other,” said his wife, Jacquita Gonzales.
The event has not been billed as a commemoration ceremony because many family members still believe that their loved ones are alive.
The search team is due to release an interim report about MH370 later today.
Earlier, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that he was confident that the plane would be found in the southern Indian Ocean.
Liow Tiong Lai promised his government would continue to back the search and said he was confident they could complete the search operation “hopefully by May this year”.
He told AFP that investigators would go “back to the drawing board” if the search failed to yield results by May.
Some families of those on board the plane have accused the Malaysian authorities of hiding some information, but the transport minister urged them not to believe the conspiracy theories.
Earlier this year, the Malaysian government declared flight MH370 to have been lost with all on board, in a move it said was necessary to start processing compensation claims for the families.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak has announced an extra 500 million ringgit ($142 million) to help victims of the country’s worst flooding in decades.
At least five people have been killed in the floods along Malaysia’s east coast, with over 160,000 displaced.
PM Najib Razak made the announcement after visiting flood-stricken areas.
He has faced public anger after being photographed golfing with President Barack Obama in Hawaii during the storms.
Najib Razak decided to cut short his holiday, and defended his “golf diplomacy” with President Barack Obama, saying that it was difficult to decline the invitation as it had been planned for a while.
“Every day when I was there, I received the latest report on the flood situation… as it became more serious, I decided to return to the country as soon as possible,” Najib Razak said in Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantan province.
The extra funding will go to victims after the floods subsides, and is on top of an initial 50 million ringgit ($14 million) allocation.
Entire towns have been submerged by the flooding.
Rescue workers have been struggling to bring in enough food and supplies for families sleeping in relief centers.
Some victims have accused the government of being too slow in responding.
Malaysia’s eastern states are often flooded during the monsoon season but heavy rain and winds have worsened the situation this year.
Malaysia PM Najib Razak said his country will not give up on the search for missing flight MH370, as he visited the search hub in Perth, Australia.
Najib Razak’s comments came at a joint news conference with Australia’s PM Tony Abbott.
The Malaysian prime minister praised the search effort, saying the co-operation amid “great tragedy” had “given us all heart”.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane was carrying 239 people.
Planes and ships have been scouring the southern Indian Ocean, where the jet is believed to have crashed.
The focus of the search is an 85,000 sq mile area 932 miles west of Perth.
But so far not a single piece of debris from the Boeing 777 has been found.
Malaysia PM Najib Razak visits missing flight MH370 search hub in Perth (photo Getty Images)
Najib Razak met search crews at Pearce RAAF base near Perth on Thursday morning, before their planes left for the day, and then later held talks with Tony Abbott.
“The disappearance of MH370 has tested our collective resolve,” he told a news conference.
“Faced with so little evidence, and such a Herculean task, investigators from Malaysia, the US, the UK, China, Australia and France have worked without pause to reveal the aircraft’s movements.”
He thanked both search teams and the Australian government for their efforts in recent weeks, and said the search would go on.
“I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve. I cannot imagine what they must be going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up,” he said.
Malaysian authorities have come in for heavy criticism over their management of the search, especially from relatives of the plane’s 153 Chinese passengers.
On Thursday, eight military planes and nine ships were due to take part in the search.
Weather conditions were fair, with visibility of approximately 6 miles, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) – which is overseeing the search – said.
The British submarine HMS Tireless is also in the southern Indian Ocean and is due to be joined by Royal Navy ship HMS Echo.
The Australian Navy ship Ocean Shield is heading to the region and has equipment for detecting the plane’s “black-box” flight recorder.
Experts say timing is critical as the flight recorder may only have enough battery power to send out a signal until April 7.
Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, head of the JACC, warned that the search operation faced multiple difficulties.
“This is one of the most demanding and challenging search and rescue operations, or search and recovery operations, that I have ever seen and I think probably one of the most complex operations of this nature that the world has ever seen,” he told Najib Razak and Tony Abbott.
On Wednesday Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said investigators had “cleared” all passengers of possible involvement in hijacking, sabotage or having personal or psychological problems that could have been connected to the disappearance.
But he said that the criminal investigation could “go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing”.
“At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident,” he added.
The police chief said that more than 170 interviews had been conducted with family members of the pilots and crew members, and that even cargo and food served on the plane were being investigated in case of sabotage.
Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak has said the communications systems of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were deliberately disabled.
According to satellite and radar evidence, the plane then changed course and could have continued flying for a further seven hours.
The plane’s last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, PM Najib Razak said Saturday.
Najib Razak’s statement confirmed days of mounting speculation that the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board on March 8 was not accidental, and underlines the massive task for searchers who already been scouring vast areas of ocean.
The Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight last made contact with air traffic control as it headed east towards the South China Sea, about one hour after take-off.
Najib Razak told a news conference that new satellite evidence shows “with a high degree of certainty” that the aircraft’s communications systems were disabled just before it reached the east coast of Malaysia.
Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak has said the communications systems of the missing flight MH370 were deliberately disabled (photo Reuters)
According to a military radar, the flight then turned and flew back over Malaysia before turning north-west.
A satellite was able to pick up a signal from the plane for some seven hours after it lost radar contact, although it was unable to give a precise location, Najib Razak said.
He went on to say that based on this new data, investigators “have determined the plane’s last communication with a satellite was in one of two possible corridors”:
a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand
a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean
Najib Razak said that in light of the new evidence, the investigation had “entered a new phase” and would focus on the crew and passengers on board.
Addressing reports that the plane had been hijacked, he said only “we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate”.
An extensive search of the seas around Malaysia – involving 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft – have proved fruitless.
Najib Razak’s news conference goes some way to addressing the speculation that had begun circulating in local media that the plane had been hijacked and had somehow landed intact.
Malaysia’s ruling National Front coalition has won a simple majority in the country’s parliamentary election, extending its 56-year rule, with two-thirds of seats confirmed.
PM Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional coalition had passed the threshold of 112 seats in the 222-seat parliament, the Election Commission said.
Defeated opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim accused the party of widespread fraud before and during the polls.
Some 80% of registered voters cast ballots, said election officials.
Voters had been faced with returning the ruling party, or choosing Anwar Ibrahim’s untested three-party alliance, Pakatan Rakyat.
As the result was confirmed, Najib Razak, 59, urged all Malaysians to accept his coalition’s victory.
Malaysia’s ruling National Front coalition has won a simple majority in the country’s parliamentary election, extending its 56-year rule
“The results show a trend of polarization which worries the government. If it is not addressed, it can create tension or division in the country,” he said.
“We have to show to the world that we are a mature democracy.”
With results trickling in overnight, Barisan Nasional had won 127 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s 77 by 03:30, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier, Najib Razak had said he was confident Malaysians would retain his coalition and even return the two-thirds parliamentary majority it lost in the 2008 polls.
Barisan Nasional, while credited with bringing economic development and political stability, has also been tainted by allegations of corruption.
In what was considered a tight race, it had campaigned hard to shore up its base among poorer ethnic Malay neighborhoods and in rural areas.
But Anwar Ibrahim refused to concede defeat, accusing the authorities of widespread abuses which he said had distorted the result of the election.
“It is an election that we consider fraudulent and the Electoral Commission has failed,” he told a news conference after midnight on Monday.
Allegations of election fraud surfaced before the election. Some of those who voted in advance said that indelible ink on their hands – supposed to last for days and show they had already voted – had easily washed off.
The opposition also accused the government of funding flights for supporters to key states, which the government denied.
Independent pollster Merdeka Center also cited unconfirmed reports of foreign nationals being given ID documents and being allowed to vote.
The international organization Human Rights Watch also said there had been well-planned attacks against the country’s independent media ahead of the polls.
Most traditional media in Malaysia are linked to the governing parties so their opponents rely almost exclusively on the internet to get their message out, correspondents say.
Malaysia is voting in what is widely expected to be the most closely contested general election in the country’s history.
PM Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition is up against Pakatan Rakyat, a three-party alliance headed by Anwar Ibrahim.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional coalition is up against Pakatan Rakyat, a three-party alliance headed by Anwar Ibrahim
Voters are faced with returning the ruling party, in power for 56 years, or choosing an untested opposition.
Ahead of the polls, allegations of various forms of fraud emerged.
At polling station in the capital Kuala Lumpur queues had formed well before voting began.
Analysts say that for the first time since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, there is a real possibility that the opposition may be able to unseat the ruling party. Opinion polls suggest support for the two sides is evenly matched.
The possibility of an end to more than half a century of one-party rule has made this the hardest-fought election anyone can remember.
The hunger for change, especially among younger Malaysians, has given the opposition real momentum during the campaign.
But the ruling party has significant advantages in the cash it has spent on crowd-pleasing hand-outs, and in the way Malaysia’s parliamentary system over-represents rural areas, where the government’s support is strongest.
Nearly eight million people cast ballots in the first four hours of voting, comprising almost 60% of the 13.3 million registered voters, the election commission said.
Barisan Nasional, while credited with bringing economic development and political stability, has also been tainted by allegations of corruption.
But it remains to be seen whether Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition, comprising parties of different ethnicities and religions, can persuade voters to choose an alternative government.
Najib Razak, 59, said he was confident that Malaysians would retain his coalition and even return the two-thirds parliamentary majority Barisan Nasional lost in the 2008 polls.
During the last four years, Najib Razak said during a campaign rally on Thursday, the coalition had proved it could “protect and benefit all Malaysians”.
“The task of transformation is not over yet,” he told supporters in his home state of Pahang on Saturday.
Mohamed Rafiq Idris, a car business owner waiting to vote in the central state of Selangor, told the Associated Press news agency the ruling coalition had made “some mistakes” but he believed it would do its best to take care of the people’s welfare.
But first-time voter Bernie Lim, a banker, said: “I grew up recognizing that my parents voted for the present coalition at almost every general election. This time, they voted for the opposition. People do change.”
Anwar Ibrahim, 65, has said people’s clamor for change means that Pakatan Rakyat will emerge victorious.
“People have enough of this semi-authoritarian rule, of complete [government] control of the media, of strong arrogance, of power and endemic corruption,” he told AP in an interview.
He advised supporters “to remain calm, not to be provoked, not to take the law into their own hands, support the process”.
“Unless there’s a major massive fraud tomorrow – that is our nightmare – we will win,” he told AFP news agency.
Allegations of election fraud surfaced before the election. Some of those who voted in advance complained that indelible ink – supposed to last for days – easily washed off.
The opposition has also accused the government of funding flights for supporters to key states, which the government denies.
Independent pollster Merdeka Center has received unconfirmed reports of foreign nationals being given IDs and allowed to vote.
The international organization Human Rights Watch said there had been well-planned attacks against the country’s independent media ahead of the polls.
It said on Thursday that readers were unable to access several online news sites providing coverage of opposition candidates.
Officially, just 18 foreign electoral observers are in Malaysia. They are joined by 1,200 local observers from 17 non-governmental organizations.
The electoral commission said on Saturday that the foreign observers comprised six each from Indonesia and Thailand, and two each from Burma, Cambodia and the ASEAN secretariat.