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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay more than $2.9 billion to the U.S. government to settle charges surrounding its role in facilitating the $6.5 billion 1MDB fraud.

The big picture: The fine comes after Goldman previously agreed to pay Hong Kong regulators $350 million, and another $2.5 billion to the government of Malaysia, plus the restitution of $1.4 billion in assets.

  • The investment bank's Malaysian subsidiary has also pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.

The backdrop: Goldman played a central role in facilitating the 1MDB fraud, earning almost $600 million in fees on three bond deals from the deeply corrupt Malaysian fund. That's about 200 times more than the normal amount a sovereign issuer would pay. Each time, as soon as Goldman provided the money to 1MDB, corrupt financier — and Goldman client — Jho Low would steal it.

  • Low is in hiding, but two former Goldman bankers, Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, have been arrested for their role in the fraud. Leissner has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in January; Ng has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in March.
  • Goldman CEO David Solomon and his predecessor Lloyd Blankfein are both having some of their previous pay clawed back by the bank, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What they're saying: Acting assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Rabbit has charged Goldman with paying a whopping $1.6 billion in bribes, which he said is "the largest amount of bribes ever paid by a company in violation of the FCPA."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

Wall Street still prefers bonds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Getty Contributor

Investors' return on U.S. corporate bonds has been falling since its August peak, but buying has only accelerated, especially in investment grade bonds that are offering historically low yields.

The state of play: Since hitting its 2020 high on Aug. 4, the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. bond aggregate has delivered a -2.2% return. (For comparison, the S&P 500 has gained 3.9% during the same time period.)

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.