Goldman could withhold some 2018 pay for top executives over Malaysia scandal

  • The Wall Street firm's board approved a forfeiture provision that could withhold or pull back pay awarded top executives pending the outcome of a scandal involving a Malaysian development fund.
  • Goldman's former Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein was awarded 2018 pay of $20.5 million, including $14.5 million of restricted shares that vest over time.
  • The forfeitures could apply to any of the firm's top five executive officers as of the end of 2018.
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group

Goldman Sachs said it could withhold some pay from top executives as a result of an ongoing criminal probe of a Malaysian investment fund.

The Wall Street firm said in a regulatory filing Friday its board of directors had approved a forfeiture provision that gave it "the flexibility to reduce the size of the award prior to payment and/or forfeit the underlying transfer-restricted shares" of executive pay granted for 2018.

That could cost former CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and other top executives millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of an investigation into a Malaysian investment fund called 1MDB. Goldman had helped raise $6.5 billion for the fund in 2012 and 2013 in three bond deals, but now faces charges by the Malaysian government, which claims assets were plundered from the fund. Goldman has said it was the victim of deceptive Malaysian officials.

Blankfein was CEO of Goldman for 12 years starting in 2006, but stepped down from the role in October and retired as chairman at the end of December. His 2018 pay was $20.5 million, including $2 million salary, an $18.5 million bonus and more than $14 million in restricted shares that vest over time.

David Solomon, who took over as CEO and chairman, received pay of $23 million for last year, including a $1.9 million salary, $21 million bonus and restricted shares of $15.4 million, according to the regulatory filing.

The forfeitures could apply to any of the firm's top five executive officers as of the end of 2018.

Goldman said it would withhold or pull back pay as much as five years from now "if it is later determined that the results of the 1MDB proceedings would have impacted the Committee's 2018 year-end compensation decisions for any of these individuals."

In addition, the filing said Goldman has decided to put off calculating the value of longer-term pay granted Blankfein and other former executives in 2011 "until more information is available."