Malaysia, Goldman discuss 1MDB penalty

Former Malaysian prime Minister Najib Razak has been slapped with several charges relating to 1MDB.
Former Malaysian prime Minister Najib Razak has been slapped with several charges relating to 1MDB.

Malaysia has discussed a $US2 billion to $US3 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs over the US bank's alleged role in the 1MDB scandal, Bloomberg reports, less than half the sum the Southeast Asian nation had demanded earlier.

Investigators in Malaysia and the United States say about $US4.5 billion ($A6.6 billion) was misappropriated from the now-defunct state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, set up in 2009 by former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been slapped with several charges.

In 2018, Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman over its role as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised $US6.5 billion for 1MDB.

Prosecutors in August filed criminal charges against 17 current and former directors at Goldman's units.

Malaysia's finance minister said in January the government would be ready to discuss dropping the charges against Goldman if it agreed to pay $US7.5 billion in reparations.

Goldman has not commented on any figure but said in 2018 it had set aside $US1.8 billion to cover potential losses related to 1MDB legal proceedings.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was keen to reach a deal with Goldman this year itself as the government grapples with a high debt burden.

Goldman declined to comment on the report. A spokesman for Mahathir had no immediate comment.

Najib, who lost a general election last year, faces dozens of graft and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about $US1 billion in 1MDB funds. He has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said at a trial on Tuesday in one of Najib's cases that the former premier acted like an "emperor" who orchestrated massive fraud at a former unit of 1MDB.

Najib's lawyer is expected to rebut the prosecution's case on Wednesday.

A ruling on whether to acquit Najib or call for him to enter his defence will be delivered on November 11.

Australian Associated Press