It was inevitable and the Department of Justice signaled as much in their press conference last month when it was asked about whether investment banker Goldman Sachs would be investigated for establishing bonds for the controversial Malaysian 1MDB the money of which was allegedly misspent going into to fund Red Granite’s The Wolf of Wall Street as well as expensive artwork, real estate for the production company’s co-founder Riza Aziz and investments for his friend Jho Low. A basic money laundering scheme, according to DOJ. The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon that it had dropped subpoenas on the powerful investment banker and securities firm. We expect more to be dropped on a local bank and bank employees as well.
At issue is whether public money from the Malaysian people was used for the private gain of an elite few. The investigation by law enforcement in the states has been going on for some time. The head of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation team said that its division began in earnest last October. The investigation into Goldman Sachs is to determine whether they broke any laws in the bonds they issued for 1MDB — about $2.5 billion of which ended up in shell companies.
Goldman Sachs is so powerful that it remained largely untouched through the mortgage crisis as many of their peer companies collapsed around them. The SEC did charge them and one of its VPs, however, with defrauding investors by misstating and omitting significant information about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages when the housing market started to go upside down. They ended up paying out a record $550M in penalties and had to reform its business practices.
Goldman Sachs also owns a number of city bonds across the country, including in Los Angeles. In fact, I would call them an octopus with relationships in the most powerful levels of government as there is a revolving door from Goldman Sachs into the Treasury Department (including with Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush) and in and out of the Federal Reserve. They also have strong relationships with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
So, when a reporter asked basically whether they would include Goldman Sachs in their investigation into 1MDB and Red Granite , law enforcement last month promised to go where the investigation led.
It’s understood that Goldman Sachs is cooperating.