KUALA LUMPUR: Film producer Riza Aziz has pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court here to five counts of money laundering amounting to US$248.173mil (about RM1.02bil), monies believed to be misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whose full name is Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, was accused of engaging in money laundering by receiving proceeds from unlawful activities in five transactions.
The money, believed to be the result of misappropriation of 1MDB funds, were wired into two bank accounts belonging to Red Granite Productions Inc, a film production and distribution company which Riza co-founded.
The money – US$1,173,104; US$9mil; US$133,000,000; US$60,000,000; US$45,000,000 – was allegedly channelled from Good Star Ltd and Aabar Investments PJS Ltd into the bank accounts.
Good Star Ltd is linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who is a central figure to the 1MDB scandal.
Riza was accused of committing the offences in the United States and Singapore between April 12, 2011 and Nov 14, 2012.
The charges under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 carry a maximum fine of RM5mil, or a jail term of not more than five years, or both, upon conviction.
After the charges were read to him, the 43-year-old said: "Tidak bersalah, minta dibicarakan (Not guilty, I claim trial)".
Senior prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram offerred bail at RM1mil.
Riza's lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran did not object to the amount but asked for the bail to be paid in installment. This was objected by Sri Ram.
Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob fixed bail at RM1mil in two sureties and told the accused to surrender his passport to the court.
She also said the bail must be paid in full by the end of the day.
Riza, who is Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's son from a previous marriage, came to the court with his stepsiblings, Noorashman Mohd Najib and Nooryana Najwa Mohd Najib.
Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, anak tiri kepada bekas PM Najib Razak tiba di Kompleks Mahkamah Kuala Lumpur bagi menghadapi lima pertuduhan di bawah Akta Pengubahan Wang Haram berjumlah USD248 juta (RM1.25 bilion) pic.twitter.com/cfG6ZV72Ki— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) July 5, 2019