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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

HOW ON EARTH DID WE HIRE THESE CROOKS: GOLDMAN ‘REFLECTING HARD’ ON ITS ROLE IN 1MDB KLEPTOCRACY – WHILE UNREPENTANT NAJIB CONTINUES TO TRY TO BAMBOOZLE THE WORLD HIS ILLICIT MONEY WAS LEGITIMATE ‘DONATION’ FROM A ‘PRINCE’

GOLDMAN Sachs, the investment bank at the heart of the 1MDB scandal, is reflecting hard on its hiring and promotion policies as it tries to contain the fallout from the case, CNBC reports.
Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO David Solomon told CNBC’s David Faber that the bank is “spending a lot of time being reflective” about how it hired Tim Leissner, its former Southeast Asia head, and Roger Ng.
Solomon in January apologised to Malaysia over the bank’s role in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal.
The two former bankers conspired with fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB scandal, to defraud the state investor.
Goldman Sachs arranged three bond sales in 2012 and 2013 to fund 1MDB, raising US$6.5 billion to supposedly attract foreign investments. For its troubles, it charged 1MDB US$600 million, a fee that dwarfs what banks typically makes from government deals.
Last November, Leissner pleaded guilty to violating US anti-bribery and money-laundering laws and agreed to pay US$43.7 million (RM184 million) in restitution of ill-gotten gains.
Solomon said yesterday the firm is “really thinking about how it was that we wound up having somebody we hired at the firm, promoted at the firm, became a partner with the firm and turned out to be a criminal”.
He told CNBC the bank is working “as diligently as we can to put it behind us and move on and stay focused on our clients and businesses”.
Its shares plummeted 7.5% to seven-year lows last year in the aftermath of the scandal after the bank made an “indirect” admission of culpability.
The shares are trading at US$203.08 at the close of markets yesterday. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Najib’s donor allegedly a ‘prince’

KUALA LUMPUR: A sum of RM1.9bil was credited into one of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private bank accounts between 2011 and 2013, the High Court heard.
Part of the money was purportedly a donation from one “Prince Faisal al Turki” and the Finance Ministry of Saudi Arabia.
This was confirmed by AmBank manager R. Uma Devi during cross-examination by Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh.
Harvinderjit: Refer to this email of bank statement ending 694. Are these transactions from “Prince Faisal al Turki”?
Uma Devi: Yes.
She also agreed that another amount was RM324mil, which was credited from Saudi’s Finance Ministry to Najib’s account.
To a suggestion, Uma Devi agreed that a letter of instruction purportedly written by Najib on July 30, 2013, had instructed that the donation money be returned to the owner (Prince Faisal Al Turki).
Harvinderjit: On the basis of the letter, it was clear the bank knew the amount of money credited was a donation?
Uma Devi: Yes.
The High Court also heard that Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd, a unit of SRC International Sdn Bhd, was subjected to closer scrutiny by a bank as it was a high-risk account.
Uma Devi said AmBank flagged Gandingan Mentari as high risk, thus the account was put on monthly monitoring from the compliance department.
The witness was testifying in cross-examination in the corruption trial of the former prime minister accused of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International funds.
During cross-examination, Harvinderjit asked the reason why the Gandingan Mentari was considered high risk when it was a new account.
Uma Devi replied that even without much transaction history, risk could still be computed based on certain factors and the category of the business.
“There are some companies that handle lots of cash, like law firms, or have criteria that would get flagged as high risk,” she said.
The witness, however, was unable to explain what entailed in the monitoring as she was not with the compliance department.
(According to credit reporting agency CTOS [ctoscredit.com.my], Gandingan Mentari’s nature of business is wholesale of a variety of goods without any particular specialisation, real estate activities with owned or leased properties, stock, share and bond brokers.)
Previously, Affin Bank processing officer Rosaiah Mohamed Rosli testified that Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd received RM45mil from an AmIslamic Bank account belonging to Gandingan Mentari in two transactions over two days in December 2015.
Ihsan Perdana is the corporate social responsibility unit of SRC International.
Najib is facing seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42mil belonging to SRC International.
Earlier, the court dismissed Najib’s application to declare the seven charges against him as defective.
Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said the defence’s argument that the charges were flawed was without basis.
The charges against Najib, he said, did not constitute double jeopardy as the offences were different and any conviction could be secured if the prosecution proved each of the offences.
He added that the charges were not structured in a way that could mislead or prejudice him to a point that the accused could not put up a proper defence.
“The prosecution has produced all the documents to the defence.
“At this stage, the trial has proceeded for nine days and 21 witnesses have been called with extensive cross-examination, with the applications for documents from witnesses that were allowed by this court.
“It is difficult to comprehend that the accused could have been misled,” he said.
Justice Mohd Nazlan also said that money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abuse of power were different offences and there was no duplicity.
“For the following broad reasons, this application is denied,” he said.
The hearing continues today. – THE STAR
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT / THE STAR

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