The bank has asked the U.S. to review demands that any settlement include a guilty plea to a felony charge, according to people briefed on the matter.
Goldman Sachs is trying to get federal prosecutors to ease up on the bank for its role in a brazen scheme to loot billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Lawyers for the bank have asked Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to review demands by some federal prosecutors that Goldman pay more than $2 billion in fines and plead guilty to a felony charge, according to three people briefed on the matter.
The bank has sought to pay a lower fine and avoid a guilty plea, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are continuing.
The request, which was made several weeks ago, is not unusual for a high-profile corporate investigation and often comes in the final stage of settlement talks. But it has been a point of pride for Goldman that it has never had to admit guilt in a federal investigation, and the scandal has already been a black eye for the bank.
Authorities in the United States and Malaysia say more than $2.7 billion was diverted from the fund, known as 1MDB, in a scheme that involved the flamboyant financier Jho Low, the country’s former prime minister, and other powerful people. The fund was meant to finance projects for the benefit of the people of Malaysia, but some of the cash went to buy luxury apartments, yachts, paintings and even finance the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Negotiations have been delayed at times because of the Covid-19 health crisis, but the people said they expected a resolution by early September of the criminal investigation, which has been led by prosecutors in Brooklyn and with the money laundering and kleptocracy group in Washington.