Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) shares declined after officials in Malaysia filed criminal charges against the bank and two of its former employees as part of an investigation into a multi billion dollar corruption scandal linked to a sovereign wealth fund.
Malaysia's Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, said he would press for fines that were "well in excess" of the $600 million in fees received by Goldman Sachs, as well as the $2.7 billion that was allegedly misappropriated by 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, the sovereign wealth fund at the heart of the scandal. Two former Goldman Sachs employees, as well as two others connected to 1MDB, will face the criminal charges.
"The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate $2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs," Thomas said in a statement from the Attorney's office. "If no criminal proceedings are instituted against the accused, their undermining of our financial system and market integrity will go unpunished."
Goldman Sachs shares fell 1.2% to $170.74 on Monday.
"We believe these charges are misdirected, will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case," Goldman said in an emailed statement to TheStreet. "The firm continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating these matters."
Goldman's alleged role in the so-called 1MDB scandal, for which it helped raise $6.5 billion, has alsoled the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn to file criminal charges against two Goldman bankers and could result in "significant fines, penalties and other sanctions", according to an SEC filing made by the firm on November 2.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last month that the bank "cheated" his country while Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has insisted he'll seek a "full refund" of fees paid to Goldman for helping the 1MDB fund raise $6.5 billion in three separate bond offerings.
The scandal, which is the subject of probes in six different countries, also involved a former DoJ employee, George Higginbotham, who plead guilty last month to charges that he made false statements to U.S. banks about funds being transferred from abroad and helped use those funds to lobby against the DoJ's investigation into 1MDB.
One of the alleged architects of the scandal, Malaysian businessman Jho Taek Low, remains at large.