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Malaysia officials visit Goldman office as part of 1MDB probe: sources

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysian anti-corruption officials investigating state investor 1MDB for alleged graft visited the local office of Goldman Sachs last month seeking documents relating to the state firm, two people familiar with the visit said.

The scandal engulfing indebted 1MDB has triggered a political crisis for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who oversees the fund, and has contributed to the ringgit's fall to a 17-year low against the US dollar.

One of the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officials visited Goldman Sach's office in Kuala Lumpur on July 8, the same day the anti-graft authority visited the offices of 1MDB. "1MDB is the subject of investigations, not Goldman Sachs," this source said.

Goldman Sachs is working with the MACC on its request, this source said without providing more details.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

The US investment bank helped 1MDB raise US dollar debt to finance acquisitions of power plants.

Goldman Sachs' role in the bond issue was criticised in Malaysian media and political circles after it emerged that 1MDB paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the bank for helping it raise US$6.5 billions in three bond deals in 2012 and 2013.

The bank earned roughly US$590 million in fees, commissions and expenses from underwriting the bonds, a person familiar with the situation said. Banks would usually charge around 1 per cent to place a bond.

Goldman's profit on the 1MDB bonds came from the private nature of the deals, and the risk the bank took in buying some of these bonds and then selling them to clients, debt bankers familiar with the bonds said.

In a report in early July, the Wall Street Journal claimed investigators looking into 1MDB had discovered nearly US$700 million was transferred to Mr Najib's bank accounts, citing documents from the investigation.

Reuters has not verified the Wall Street Journal report.

Mr Najib, who also acts as finance minister in Malaysia and chairs 1MDB's advisory board, has denied taking any money for personal gain.

Last week Malaysia's anti-corruption commission said the funds deposited in Mr Najib's accounts were from a donation, not from 1MDB, without elaborating on who the donor was.