A multi-billion-dollar fraud scandal perpetrated by an investment arm of the Malaysian government appears to have ensnared another major global financial institution — Deutsche Bank (DB – Get Report) — which already is reeling from massive restructuring efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Justice Department is investigating whether the German lender violated foreign corruption or anti-money-laundering laws in its work for the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, which included helping the fund raise $1.2 billion in 2014 as concerns about the fund’s management and financials had begun to circulate.
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The investigation comes amid a massive overhaul of the Munich-based bank announced over the weekend, which includes layoffs in the thousands and the creation of a separate entity for bad loans, debt and other problem investments and holdings that have plagued the bank since the 2008 global financial crisis.
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Investigators reportedly have been assisted by former Goldman Sachs executive, Tim Leissner, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. Prosecutors have been investigating similar issues at Goldman, where Leissner, a former managing director, pleaded guilty last year to helping re-direct billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund.
A state economic-development fund, 1MDB turned into a major global scandal after billions of dollars were drained from it between 2009 and 2014, leading to multiple government investigations and the downfall of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Department of Justice has said the stolen money totals at least $4.5 billion and that it was used to pay bribes to government officials, pad a slush fund controlled by the former prime minister and purchase hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury goods and real estate.
Shares of Deutsche Bank were down 0.54% at $7.36 in early trading in New York on Thursday.
By: M. Corey Goldman