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Update: MAS says no Singapore bank received 1MDB bond proceeds

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Wednesday that no bank in Singapore received the US$3 billion wire transfer from Goldman Sachs which had arranged the bond issuance for Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

[SINGAPORE] The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Wednesday that no bank in Singapore received the US$3 billion wire transfer from Goldman Sachs which had arranged the bond issuance for Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

It is rare for MAS to issue statements about specific banking transactions, and it said it was doing so in response to media queries.

“MAS stated that no bank in Singapore received the US$3 billion wire transfer from Goldman Sachs in relation to the bond issuance for 1MDB,” an MAS spokeswoman said.

The one-line statement came after the Wall Street Journal reported that bond proceeds from the 1MDB US$3 billion bonds ended up in the Singapore branch of a Swiss bank.

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US investigators are trying to determine if Goldman had broken the law when it didn’t flag what appeared to be a suspicious transaction in part because funds of that size would typically go to a large global bank, the paper said.

1MDB is at the centre of global probes into allegations of money laundering and embezzlement. From Singapore to Switzerland to the US, investigators have been trying to trace whether money might have flowed out of the fund and illegally into personal accounts.

1MDB has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been facing calls to step down over allegations of graft and billions of dollars in misappropriated funds at his pet project 1MDB.

Critics say Mr Najib was a beneficiary of 1MDB’s funds, after about US$681 million was deposited in his bank account before a 2013 election. Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

1MDB and Goldman both declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the MAS statement.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the investigation, reported that US law enforcement officials were attempting to identify whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc violated federal law after failing to flag a transaction in Malaysia.

The newspaper said half of the proceeds from the sale of the bonds, which were transferred to a Swiss bank account controlled by 1MDB, disappeared offshore with some later ending up in Mr Najib’s bank account.

The United States is also reviewing Goldman Sachs’ business relationship with 1MDB as part of a broader investigation into the fund.

In an unprecedented move last month, MAS ordered the closure of BSI Bank’s operations in Singapore, while Switzerland began criminal proceedings against the private bank, in the biggest international crackdown on financial entities dealing with 1MDB.

REUTERS/BLOOMBERG

 

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