By Praveen Menon and A. Ananthalakshmi
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is considering asking the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to get Goldman Sachs to return nearly $600 million in fees it earned from bonds raised for scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Malaysian authorities want to ask the DoJ, which is pursuing a corruption and money laundering probe at 1MDB, a state fund, to get Goldman to disgorge profits it made from the sale, after which Malaysia would claim the money, both sources said.
No formal request has been made to the DoJ, but top officials are actively discussing the plan within the government, the sources added.
"There have been no official requests yet, but this is being discussed," said a Malaysian government source.
A financial industry source in Malaysia, who is aware of the discussions, said back channel talks between the government and the DoJ were underway.
How Kuala Lumpur would go about claiming the funds, and the legal hurdles in the process were not immediately made clear by the sources.
More than $2.5 billion raised from those bonds was misappropriated by high-level 1MDB officials, their relatives and associates, according to DoJ civil lawsuits filed in a U.S. court in 2016.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing, but has been questioned by government investigators after the election. He and his wife have been barred from leaving the country.
Goldman has always maintained that it did nothing wrong and that it had no visibility into whether some of the funds raised may have been subsequently diverted to other purposes.
A special task force set up after the election to look into 1MDB met officials from the DoJ and the U.S. FBI to discuss the probe in late May, including the process of returning the funds to Malaysia.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon and A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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