Goldman Sachs will pay $2.9 billion after pleading guilty to bribing foreign leaders with Malaysia's money

Kathryn Krawczyk
·1 min read

Goldman Sachs has pleaded guilty to criminal charges for the first time in its long history.

The bank pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to violate anti-bribery laws as it helped Malaysian financiers and leaders siphon money from the country's economic development fund. It will pay $2.9 billion to U.S. authorities, including $1.3 billion to the Justice Department, the DOJ said in a Thursday press conference. That's the largest penalty ever charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S. companies from bribing foreign leaders, CNN reports.

The DOJ alleged Goldman Sachs of playing a role in a scheme in which a Malaysian financier, a former prime minister's family, and other powerful people in the country lifted $2.7 billion from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund. Those people used the money to buy yachts, van Gogh and Monet paintings, and even a share in developing the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. Goldman already settled with Malaysia over the summer to pay back $3.9 billion.

Despite its role in the 2008 financial crisis and dozens of other scandals, Goldman Sachs has never before had to plead guilty to criminal charges, The New York Times notes. The bank did have to pay fines to cover some of those past issues, but this $5.1 billion sum is more than it paid after "peddling bonds backed by risky mortgages a decade ago," the Times writes.

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