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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.)

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.