The Malaysian Job, by Andrew Cockburn

Goldman Sachs does what it can get away with, or what it can use its influence and money to get those charged with enforcing laws and regulations to overlook. From Andrew Cockburn (h/t SLL reader ursel doran) at harpers.org:

This past January, Goldman Sachs CEO and chairman David Solomon strode onto a stage at the bank’s lower Manhattan headquarters to launch the first “Investor Day” in the famously secretive institution’s one-hundred-and-fifty-year history. The celebration was promoted as an inspiring review of Goldman’s “strategic road map and goals,” and the presentations were replete with pledges of “transparency” and “sustainability,” though the overall performance was unkindly summarized by bank analyst Christopher Whalen as “investment bankster BS.” Early in his opening address, Solomon expounded the “core values” of the firm he had headed since October 2018. After “Partnership” and “Client Service” came “Integrity.” Solomon stressed that he was “laser-focused” on this last term, emphasizing that the company “must always have an unrelenting commitment to doing the right thing, always.” There followed, however, a glancing reference to a singular black cloud hovering over the proceedings. “In the wake of our experience with Malaysia,” he said, “I am keenly aware of how the actions of a few can harm our reputation, our brand, and our performance as a firm.” With that brief mention, he moved on to a fourth core Goldman value: “Excellence.”

Everyone in the room had recognized the allusion. “Malaysia” was shorthand for a gigantic fraud—possibly the largest in financial history—in which, beginning in 2009, billions of dollars were diverted from a Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) into covert campaign-finance accounts, U.S. political campaigns, Hollywood movies, and the pockets of innumerable other recipients. The “few” Solomon referred to were those Goldman executives whose active participation in the scam’s bribery and money laundering had since become undeniable.

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