Goldman clawing back millions from David Solomon, Lloyd Blankfein over 1MDB scandal

(L-R) Lloyd Blankfein and David Solomon attend NYSCF Annual Summer Cocktail Reception at Private Residence on July 15, 2016 in Sagaponack, NY.

Sean Zanni | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs is moving to claw back or cut a total of $174 million in compensation from current and former employees including CEO David Solomon and former CEO Lloyd Blankfein over the 1MDB scandal.

The company announced Thursday a broad settlement with U.S. authorities over its role in the 1MDB debacle, in which a $6.5 billion Malaysian investment fund was looted with the help of some of the bank’s employees.

“The board views the 1MDB matter as an institutional failure, inconsistent with the high expectations it has for the firm,” the bank’s directors said Thursday in a statement.

Goldman is seeking to claw back $76 million from the three former employees most implicated in the scandal, the bank’s board said Thursday. The names of the bankers are Timothy Leissner, Roger Ng and Andrea Vella.

On top of that, five former senior executives including Blankfein have been asked to return $67 million in long-term compensation awarded back in 2011.

And finally, Solomon, his chief operating officer, chief financial officer and international division head will have their 2020 pay cut by $31 million. Those awards will be paid out in February of next year.

The punishment meted out by the board of the New York-based bank may be viewed as an acknowledgement that Goldman’s leaders had some responsibility for the episode. Top executives were on committees that reviewed the deals, several outlets including CNBC have previously reported.

Goldman bankers reaped about $600 million in fees to facilitate bond deals in 2012 and 2013 that funded 1MDB, an amount that fixed income professionals have said was unusually high. Those deals ultimately resulted in about $5 billion in legal costs for the bank, in addition to $1.4 billion in asset guarantees the firm is responsible for.

From the start, Goldman has maintained that just a pair of rogue employees were responsible for the bank’s part in the 1MDB scandal, Leissner and Ng. Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018, while Ng has maintained his innocence.

The 1MDB funds were allegedly used by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho to fund an epic spending spree, including a $250 million yacht, a stake in the Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street” and property around the world.