KUALA LUMPUR: Just a year after Datuk Seri Najib Razak first appeared in court over 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MBD)-related offences, his film producer stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz answered to charges of his own over money laundering totalling US$248.173mil (RM1.02bil).
Riza is accused of engaging in money laundering by receiving
proceeds from unlawful activities under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.
The money, believed to be misappropriated from 1MDB funds, was said to have been wired through five transactions into two bank accounts belonging to Red Granite Productions Inc, a film production and distribution company which Riza co-founded.
According to the charge sheets,
the sum – US$1,173,104 (RM4.8mil); US$9mil (RM37.1mil); US$133mil (RM549.2mil); US$60mil (RM247.7mil) and US$45mil (RM185.8mil) – was allegedly channelled from Good Star Ltd and Aabar Investments
PJS Ltd into the bank accounts through wire transfers.
Good Star Ltd is linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, who is a central figure in the 1MDB scandal.
Riza is accused of committing the offences at City National Bank, Los Angeles, and BSI Bank Ltd in Singapore between April 12, 2011 and Nov 14, 2012.
He faces a maximum fine of RM5mil or a jail term of not more than five years, or both, if convicted.
After the charges were read to him yesterday, the 43-year-old said: “Tidak bersalah, minta dibicarakan (Not guilty, I claim trial)”.
Senior prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram offered bail at RM1mil.
Riza’s lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran did not object to the amount, but asked for the bail to be paid in instalments.
Sri Ram objected to the request.
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.
The case was set for mention on Aug 9.
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.
Nooryana has since taken to Instagram to support her stepbrother.
In her caption for a photo of her and Riza, Nooryana wrote that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission went on to charge Riza despite Red Granite paying a substantial amount to the US Department of Justice to settle a civil lawsuit involving the same matter.
“He is not a criminal, he’s my brother,” she said.
Red Granite produced the Oscar-nominated movie The Wolf of
Wall Street, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.
On July 4 last year, Najib appeared in court for the first time to face four charges out of 42 charges.
He is currently on trial for the first set of charges involving 1MDB’s subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.