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The 1MDB scandal could prove to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, corruption scandals in human history.
It’s a story more outrageous than any fiction – a Malaysian government owned development fund was allegedly used as a vehicle to embezzle billions. Much of the money turned up in the accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and is believed to have helped fund his lavish lifestyle, including his wife’s collection of 567 designer handbags whose value dwarfs that of the famed shoe collections of Imelda Marcos.
Meanwhile, Najib Razak’s metaphorical bag man is widely held to have been Jho Low a well-known figure in Hollywood for his partying with celebrities including Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Ironically, some money was even allegedly laundered via funding the film The Wolf of Wall Street. Popular outrage over the scandal was enough to cause the ruling Malaysian coalition to lose a general election last year, and lose power for the first time since independence in 1957. Despite flagrant gerrymandering, attempts to muzzle outspoken press outlets, and imprisonment of key opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim the government still lost to an opposition led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who, now age 94, is the oldest democratically elected leader in the world.
Goldman Sachs has found itself profoundly implicated in the scandal. The American bank played a key role in helping 1MDB raise $6.5 billion in bonds, allegedl making some $600 million dollars in the process. Ex-Goldman Sachs bankers allegedly bribed Malaysian officials to secure the bank’s involvement in the bond issuance.