Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. President Michael Evans is among 17 current and former Goldman Sachs directors facing criminal charges over their alleged role in $6.5 billion of bond sales by 1MDB.
Evans, the international face of China’s e-commerce leader, was among a group of individuals who served as directors at three Goldman units Malaysia accused of misleading investors when arranging deals for 1MDB. The Alibaba honcho is a familiar face to the Chinese internet titan’s investors and a fixture in the media as well as international conference circuit, and is charged with helping helm Alibaba’s global expansion.
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Evans, who joined Alibaba in 2015 as one of its highest-profile recent hires, has a mandate to help realize billionaire co-founder Jack Ma’s ambition to get half its revenue from outside of China. The president was instrumental in orchestrating the Chinese giant’s push into Southeast Asia through the acquisition of a stake in Lazada, establishing its largest overseas beach-head. The company is expanding into Malaysia and counts the country in particular as a key partner for its so-called E-WTP or electronic world trading initiative. Evans is also overseeing Alibaba.com’s expansion in the U.S. and Ma’s promise to President Donald Trump to create a million jobs.
The executive, like others charged, now faces custodial sentences and criminal fines in a case with global ramifications. Supposed to promote development, Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB has spurred criminal and regulatory investigations around the world that cast an unflattering spotlight on deal-making, election spending and political patronage under former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Of $8 billion that 1MDB raised via bond sales, the U.S. alleges more than half was siphoned off.
“Mike Evans was a member of senior management at Goldman Sachs prior to joining Alibaba Group in 2015,” the Chinese company said in a texted statement. “We are aware of the news and will continue to monitor the situation.”