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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.)

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
36 mins ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."

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

Coinbase files to go public

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday filed to go public via a $1 billion direct listing.

Why it matters: This comes in the midst of a crypto boom, and the listing may further legitimize the industry.