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Malaysia files criminal charges against 3 Goldman units, former exec over 1MDB

Malaysia has filed criminal charges against three units of U.S. investment banking giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in connection with their roles in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. corruption and money laundering scandal, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 17, citing Malaysia Attorney General Tommy Thomas.

Criminal charges were filed in Kuala Lumpur against London-based Goldman Sachs International for its role in arranging the sale of $6.5 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB in 2012 and 2013, of which $2.7 billion was allegedly misappropriated. Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte and Hong Kong-based Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC were charged for assisting Goldman Sachs International in making false and misleading statements in the offering circulars for the bonds, according to The (Malaysia) Edge Markets.

Goldman, in a statement to the WSJ, said it believes the charges are misdirected and that it will "vigorously defend them." Goldman also said it continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating the matters, the publication added.

Criminal charges were also filed against Timothy Leissner, Goldman's former Southeast Asia chairman; fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low; and former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan. Malaysia is expected to charge Roger Ng Chong Hwa, also a former managing director at Goldman, later in the week of Dec. 17, also for abetting Goldman Sachs International. Malaysian prosecutors also filed other 1MDB charges in absentia against Jho Low and Loo, The Edge Markets reported.