Goldman Sachs profits plunge amid 1MDB corruption scandal – New York Post
Goldman Sachs profits plummeted in the fourth quarter as it prepared to fork over billions for its role in a glitzy international scandal that has touched Hollywood elites like Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese.
The Wall Street giant on Wednesday said it set aside $1.09 billion in the last three months of 2019 as its seeks to settle allegations that it ignored red flags in arranging $6.5 billion in loans for 1MDB, a Malaysian development fund that was later looted.
The reserve cut into Goldman’s profits for the quarter, leading the bank to post earnings per share of $4.69, down 22 percent from the previous year despite revenue growth of 23 percent, to $9.98 billion.
“While there can be no assurance of reaching a settlement or the timing if we do, our conversations with authorities are progressing and remain active,” Goldman Chief Executive David Solomon said of the 1MDB charge in a conference call. “We are working hard to bring closure to this matter as quickly as possible.”
Goldman is reportedly in talks with the Justice Department for a unit to plead guilty to US bribery laws and to fork over $2 billion amid allegations that at least one of its bankers was aware that flamboyant Malaysian financier Jho Low — whom Goldman had declined several times as a client — was involved in the 1MDB bond deals.
The banker, Tim Leissner, who is married to Kimora Lee Simons, has pleaded guilty in the case and has been barred from working in the industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A second Goldman banker, Roger Ng, is reportedly working on a plea deal with the Justice Department while awaiting trial in Malaysia.
Prosecutors in the US and Malaysia have accused Low, who is on the lam, of bribing public officials into letting him divert some $4.5 billion of the fund’s money to live a lavish lifestyle that included dating Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr and financing Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring DiCaprio. Low, who hosted lavish celebrity parties on his luxury yacht, has been photographed dancing with Paris Hilton and cozying up to musical artists like Alicia Keys and Usher.
In an interview earlier this month from his hiding spot, Low denied he was the “mastermind” of the scheme and said he’s been offered asylum by an unidentified country.
The Malaysian government is reportedly still looking to fine Goldman $7.5 billion, meaning the pain it felt in the fourth quarter could be extended for many quarters to come.
The bank’s legal woes come as Solomon is working on a major shift in strategy away from trading — long its main profit engine — to the construction of a bigger consumer business that shields it from swings on financial markets.
The bank’s nascent consumer business, which includes its new online retail bank Marcus as well as its credit card business, reported a 23 percent jump in revenue, to $228 million, during the fourth quarter.
Goldman, an early investor in Uber, also “exited” its position in the ride-hailing giant in the fourth quarter, the company said — a sale expected to have helped boost profits by as much as $300 million.
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January 16, 2020 at 12:44AM