The sprawling, multibillion-dollar Malaysian development fraud scandal that has toppled a prime minister and stretched from Hollywood to Wall Street is threatening to implicate another major global financial institution: Deutsche Bank AG.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the German lender DB, +1.65% 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, according to people familiar with the matter.
The investigation into Deutsche Bank has been helped in part by a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -0.87% executive, Tim Leissner, who is cooperating with authorities, according to the people familiar with the matter. Prosecutors have been investigating similar issues at Goldman, where Leissner, a former managing director, pleaded guilty last year and admitted to earlier helping siphon off billions of dollars from the 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 U.S. Justice Department 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 including jewelry, artwork and real estate.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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