(Reuters) - The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc and some other financial companies violated bribery laws in dealings with Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Enforcement lawyers at SEC are reviewing documents that detail the firms’ relationships with the Libyan Investment Authority controlled by the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, the paper said.
The regulators are interested in a $50 million fee that Goldman initially agreed to pay the fund, but the payment was never made as discussions were halted before violence erupted in Libya early this year, the paper said.
The absence of a transaction does not exempt the bank from the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans U.S. companies from offering or paying bribes to foreign government officials or employees of state-owned companies, the paper said.
The Journal added that Carlyle Group, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, JPMorgan Chase and several other companies had significant dealings with the Libyan Investment Authority.
“We are confident that nothing we did or proposed was or could have been a breach of any rule or regulation,” the Journal quoted Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag as saying. “We retained outside counsel, as is our normal practice for any transaction, to ensure that we were compliant with all applicable rules.”
An SEC spokesman declined to comment to the paper.
Reuters was unable to reach Goldman, Och-Ziff, JPMorgan, Carlyle or the SEC outside normal U.S. business hours.
The Journal said last week that Goldman invested more than $1.3 billion from Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund in currency bets and other trades in 2008 and the investment lost more than 98 percent of its value.
Reporting by Vaishnavi Bala in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn