Goldman Sachs Is Said to Try to Avoid Pleading Guilty in 1MDB Scandal

“If he does not want to be as aggressive on corporate crime, that is his prerogative,” Rebecca Roiphe, a former prosecutor and professor at New York Law School who specializes in legal ethics, said of Mr. Barr. “But these kind of appeals can give cause for concern when there are things that the public can’t see what is being done.”

Prosecutors in Malaysia have filed their own criminal charges against the bank and 17 executives, and are said to also be seeking a multibillion-dollar penalty. In its appeal to Mr. Rosen, Goldman contends that any fine from the Justice Department should be mitigated by what it will have to pay to Malaysia, as well as regulators like the New York Department of Financial Services and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the people briefed on the matter.

The bank also wants Mr. Rosen to reduce a potential guilty plea by one of its foreign subsidiaries to something less scarring, like a deferred prosecution agreement, the people said. Under such an agreement, which is common in foreign corrupt practices cases, all charges are dismissed after a designated period of time.

David Solomon, the bank’s chief executive officer, has apologized several times for Goldman’s role in the 1MDB scandal. He has attributed the wrongdoing to a couple of rogue employees.

Besides Mr. Leissner, prosecutors in the United States have charged the former Goldman banker Roger Ng, who is awaiting trial on foreign bribery and money laundering charges. A third former Goldman executive, Andrea Vella, was not charged but prosecutors referred to him as a co-conspirator in court filings. He has been barred from the financial industry by the Federal Reserve.

Even with a settlement, federal prosecutors will not be done with the 1MDB matter.

Mr. Leissner, who pleaded guilty in August 2018, had been scheduled for sentencing this month, but that was recently moved to January. Prosecutors, who have not publicly disclosed the terms of Mr. Leissner’s bail, made the request in a sealed letter to a federal judge. Mr. Ng, who pleaded not guilty, is set to go on trial in Brooklyn federal court early next year.

Mr. Low has never appeared in federal court.

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