Goldman Sachs Group Inc. admitted its role in the biggest foreign bribery case in U.S. enforcement history, reaching multiple international settlements to end probes into its fundraising for the scandal-plagued Malaysian fund known as 1MDB.
Goldman officials helped spread $1.6 billion in illicit payments across Malaysia and the Middle East as part of a scheme that diverted money raised for development projects into an international spending spree on mansions and lavish parties, the bank said.
The bank agreed to billions of dollars in new penalties to the Justice Department and other U.S. authorities, as well as to regulators in the U.K., Hong Kong and Singapore. The payments brought its overall tab to more than $5 billion to resolve probes into bond deals it arranged for 1MDB.
The Wall Street giant will cut the pay of Chief Executive Officer David Solomon and other current leaders and claw back compensation from his predecessor Lloyd Blankfein and several other former executives, the bank said Thursday.
A small Malaysian unit of the U.S. bank pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge on Thursday. But Goldman’s parent company avoided a criminal conviction to resolve the investigations, as part a deal that allows the bank to put off any prosecution as long as it cooperates with ongoing U.S. investigations and submits compliance reports.
The deferred-prosecution agreement is a win for Goldman Sachs, because a conviction might have risked losing some institutional clients that are restricted from working with financial firms with criminal records. The bank’s shares rose 1.2% on Thursday.
The global resolutions announced Thursday conclude more than a half decade of investigations into Goldman’s role in raising $6.5 billion for 1MDB in three bond offerings. To smooth the way for those bond deals, Goldman officials conspired with a 1MDB official to bribe Malaysian officials and officials of a sovereign wealth vehicle in Abu Dhabi, the U.S. Justice Department said.
U.S. authorities said that Goldman’s misconduct rose to the bank’s highest ranks, despite its insistence for years that rogue employees were responsible. “The scheme was principally carried out by senior officials in Goldman,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said.
In all, some $2.7 billion of the money raised for 1MDB was stolen by people connected to the country’s former prime minister and diverted for bribes, a luxury yacht, fine art and even funding for the Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The Justice Department settlement concludes one of the biggest bank probes inherited by the Trump administration. The bank will pay more than $2.3 billion in the plea deal, U.S. prosecutor Alixandra Smith said, the largest penalty in U.S. history for a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Airbus SE paid $2.09 billion earlier this year to settle global bribery probes.
The case against the Wall Street firm focused on its fundraising work in 2012 and 2013 for the state-owned 1MDB, formally known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd. From about 2009 to 2014, the bank’s Malaysia unit “knowingly and willfully agreed to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by corruptly promising, and paying bribes to foreign officials in order to obtain and retain business for Goldman Sachs,” the bank’s general counsel, Karen Seymour, told U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn in a video hearing on Thursday.
Goldman’s investment-banking group, led at the time by Solomon, collected $600 million from the bond sales.
Prosecutors in court filings described a corporate culture at Goldman that displayed a casual indifference to bribery, at least among a few senior executives.
In a statement of facts accepted by Goldman, prosecutors highlighted a call in which a managing director discussed with a senior executive problems the bank was having in securing an investment from an Abu Dhabi investment fund related to 1MDB.
The managing director said it was clear that a government official in Abu Dhabi was “trying to get something on the side in his pocket” from the deal. “I think it’s quite disturbing to have come across this piece of information,” he added.
“What’s disturbing about that?” the senior executive replied, according to the filing, which didn’t identify the individuals. “It’s nothing new, is it?”
The suspected mastermind of the 1MDB fraud, a Malaysian financier known as Jho Low, conspired with bankers Tim Leissner, Roger Ng and others to bribe high-ranking officials in Abu Dhabi’s state-owned and state-controlled sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Company, and a unit, Aabar Investments PJS, the bank admitted. IPIC agreed to be a guarantor of a 2012 1MDB debt deal, a role that helped the bond offering move ahead.
Bribes also went to the Malaysian government and 1MDB officials, prosecutors said.
At a February 2012 meeting, Low explained to Leissner, Ng and others that “government officials from Abu Dhabi and Malaysia needed to be bribed to both obtain the guarantee from IPIC and get the necessary approvals from Malaysia and 1MDB,” they said.
Goldman’s compliance employees were on notice to keep an eye out for any transactions that might involve Low, who was considered a significant risk. Yet in the 1MDB bond deals, they didn’t take “reasonable steps” to keep him out of it, according to the statement of facts.
For example, Goldman failed to review electronic communications of members of the deal team for evidence of Low’s involvement, which by 2012 would’ve shown Low’s role in the matter, the statement says.
Low, who has professed his innocence, remains at large. Leissner, who was the bank’s southeast Asia chairman, pleaded guilty in the U.S. to conspiring to launder money. He’ll be sentenced in January. Ng was charged with conspiring with Low to launder money. He has denied wrongdoing.
“The board views the 1MDB matter as an institutional failure, inconsistent with the high expectations it has for the firm,” Goldman’s board said in a statement Thursday announcing the executive pay cuts.
The Justice Department penalty against Goldman credits more than $1 billion in fines paid to other U.S. agencies and foreign authorities. That includes $400 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, $150 million to New York’s Department of Financial Services and $154 million to the Federal Reserve. After disgorgements of Malaysia profits, the Justice Department places the total U.S. penalty at roughly $2.9 billion.
Goldman Sachs units will also pay $350 million to Hong Kong’s financial regulator, $122 million to Singapore’s government and 96.6 million pounds ($126 million) to the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, those bodies announced Thursday.
Goldman reached a settlement in July with Malaysia, which included a payment of $2.5 billion and an unusual provision that the bank would guarantee that the Asian nation would recoup an additional $1.4 billion from 1MDB assets seized around the world. Malaysia dropped criminal charges against the bank as part of that deal.
Goldman will seek U.S. Labor Department permission before the Malaysia unit’s December sentencing to continue handling retirement funds for Americans, its lawyers said. Banks must secure a waiver from the department to continue handling such funds after an admission of criminal conduct.
The 1MDB saga devolved into a plot to pressure the U.S. to go easy on some of the alleged looters, casting a wider web that has embroiled a prominent Republican fundraiser, an official in the Justice Department and even a former Fugees rap star.
Ontario reports slight increase in COVID-19 cases, record high for Toronto – 680 News
Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
This is only a slight increase from the 1,708 cases reported a day earlier, however it comes with a much lower number of completed tests.
The province completed over 50,000 tests the previous three days. This number dropped to 39,400 completed tests reported Monday.
The provinces seven-day average reached a new high with Monday’s report.
There were 8 new deaths reported. This is a significant drop as the number has hovered around 20 in the past week.
There are 1,320 more resolved cases.
There is now a total of 116,492 confirmed cases in the province since the onset of the pandemic with 3,656 deaths. 98,639 cases have been resolved.
The number of COVID related hospitalizations in the province spiked to over 600.
Among active cases, 618 people are currently in the hospital compared to 586 the day before. Among the hospitalized, 168 are in the ICU and 108 are currently on ventilators.
Over the past week there’s been an average of just over 2,000 patients being treated in hospitals across the country. That number has nearly doubled since the end of October.
New modelling suggests that the number of Canadians hospitalized with COVID-19 will soon surpass the peak of the first wave.
Locally, Toronto reported over a third of all cases. The 622 new cases represents a single-day record for the city.
All regions in the GTA reported an increase except for Peel. After four straight days of over 500 cases Peel reports 390 on Monday.
York Region increased to 217 from 185. Durham is up to 108 from 73, a new single-day high. Halton reports 35 compared to 31 the day prior.
Ottawa saw a significant drop, reporting 29 cases compared to 79 a day earlier.
COVID-19 in schools
Ontario is reporting 102 new cases in schools.
Among the cases in schools, 86 are related to students, while 15 are linked to staff.
670 schools in the province currently have a reported case. Four schools in Ontario are currently closed as a result of COVID-19.
You can find which schools are reporting cases on the province’s website, when it is updated daily at 10:30 a.m.
Freeland to deliver Liberal plan to revive Canada's post-pandemic economy today – CBC.ca
The federal government will release its long-awaited fiscal update today — a spending plan to help Canadians cope with COVID-19 while recharging the national economy and key sectors battered by the global crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons at 4 p.m. ET today to outline details of her plan to both boost job creation and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Government sources have told CBC News the plan will include new but time-limited spending measures to support hard-hit industries and vulnerable Canadians, while laying the groundwork for the policy priorities presented in September’s speech from the throne.
CBC will have live coverage of today’s fiscal update starting at 4 p.m. ET. Watch it on CBC News Network, listen to it on CBC Radio One or stream it on CBC Gem or our CBC News app.
The update comes in the wake of optimistic reports suggesting promising vaccine candidates could roll out early in the new year — and as COVID-19 caseloads continue to grow alarmingly in some parts of the country. Numbers have reached record highs in some regions, prompting new or extended restrictions and business closures.
The measures in today’s economic statement are expected to include:
- Support for airlines and the tourism and hospitality sector, hit hard by heavy losses due to border closures and lockdowns. The sources suggest the update will include assistance for airlines, hotels and restaurants, and for the companies that supply them.
- Money to help long-term care homes stop the spread of infections.
- Support to help women return to work.
- Stimulus spending for infrastructure projects tied to the government’s promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the economic recovery.
Record deficit projected
The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a “fiscal snapshot” that projected the deficit would hit a record $343.2 billion.
The Trudeau Liberals last delivered an actual budget in March 2019, when they were still in their first mandate.
The Trudeau government has pushed back at calls to deliver an economic forecast since the current health crisis began, maintaining that the pandemic made it impossible to accurately predict economic growth or the scope of necessary emergency spending.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said the government’s delays in procuring rapid testing and vaccines have put workers and the economy in a “risky” situation.
“There is no plan for the economy if we don’t have rapid testing and vaccines as swiftly as possible,” he said during a news conference in Ottawa Sunday.
“We’re already seeing small businesses teetering on the edge. That is leading to the uncertainty and the concern out there about the wellbeing of tens of thousands of Canadian families that have invested everything in their restaurant or their autoshop or a range of businesses that are close to bankruptcy.”
WATCH | What to expect in the long-awaited fiscal update:
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today’s update is the perfect opportunity to announce “bold measures” to address the needs of the Canadians most severely affected by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile the services that were supposed to help people are, and the importance of strengthening our social safety net so that no one is left behind,” he told CBC News.
NDP pushes for child care support
The NDP is calling on the federal government to fund child care services that would allow more parents to return to work safely. It’s also pressing the government to launch a universal pharmacare program.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said it’s not enough for the government to present a “laundry list” of spending today. With a vaccine expected next year, she said, it must present a green recovery plan with economic and social investments.
“With a glimmer of hope on the horizon, it is vital that we seize this moment to prepare a green recovery plan that will engage every possible innovation, technology and resource at Canada’s disposal to enhance our ability to face challenges,” she said.
The Green Party is calling for a guarantee that any supports the Liberals offer carbon-intensive sectors are “responsible and conditional.” It also wants to see larger investments in projects and sectors that speed up progress toward a net-zero emissions economy.
Business hopes to see long-term growth plan
Business groups say they hope to see a plan today that charts a course through the ongoing crisis to long-term economic recovery and growth.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Perrin Beatty said he wants to see a shift from broad supports to smaller, more targeted federal programs to help the most vulnerable Canadians and sectors, including the restaurant, accommodation, arts and entertainment and retail sectors.
He said he hopes to see a plan that will boost Canada’s business investment and competitiveness — and not a suite of “unaffordable” new permanent programs.
“Even as we navigate our way through this second wave of the pandemic, Canada needs its government to set the conditions for a strong, business-led recovery. Canadian families and businesses continue to pay a high price because of COVID-19, and the hard work of getting Canada’s economy ready for recovery must start now with a clear and coherent plan,” he said in a media statement.
Cash-strapped municipalities are also looking for good news in today’s statement.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Garth Frizzell said he hopes to see “clear successor arrangements” to the safe restart agreement, which saw the federal government set aside $19 billion for the provinces to help them weather the second wave and drive job growth post-pandemic.
“The fall economic statement is an opportunity to build on the federal-municipal partnership that has kept Canadians safe, and essential front line services running strong, since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.
“They rely on us to keep doing that through 2021, and that’s why municipalities need to see a clear commitment that the federal government will continue to work with us to ensure support for municipal operating and transit costs.”
Moderna says will request US, Europe vaccine authorisation Monday – Aljazeera.com
Authorisation requests in the US and Europe to come after results confirm a high efficacy estimated at 94.1 percent.
US firm Moderna said it would ask US and European regulators on Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
“Moderna plans today to request EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) from the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” Moderna said in a statement, adding it would also “apply for a conditional marketing authorization with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).”
Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the US and Europe.
US hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths.
Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the US in December.
Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.
Moderna created its shots with the US National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94 percent effective.
Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge US study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine.
The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company’s chief medical officer.
When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press.
“We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”
Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete.
The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signaled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.
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