Malaysia is considering asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to get Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to return nearly $600 million in fees it earned from bonds raised for scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Malaysia is scrambling to bring home billions of dollars allegedly siphoned off from 1MDB, a state fund founded by ex-premier Najib Razak, who lost a general election last month.
His successor, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, said Malaysia is also seeking to arrest financier Low Taek Jho, a central figure in the scandal who advised on investments and negotiated deals for 1MDB.
Malaysian authorities want to ask the DoJ, which is pursuing a corruption and money laundering probe at 1MDB, to get Goldman to disgorge profits it made from the sale of the bonds, after which Malaysia would claim the money, the two sources familiar with the matter said.
No formal request has been made to the DoJ on the Goldman fees, but top officials are actively discussing the plan within the government, they said.
“There have been no official requests yet, but this is being discussed,” said a Malaysian government source.
A financial industry source in Malaysia, who is aware of the discussions, said back channel talks between the government and the DoJ were under way.
How Kuala Lumpur would go about claiming the funds, and the legal hurdles in the process were not immediately made clear by the sources.
A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the minister had no comment on the matter.
The DOJ and a spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur directed Reuters to the DoJ for comment.
Goldman raised nearly $6.5 billion in three bond sales between 2012 and 2013 for 1MDB.