'Wolf of Wall Street' producer Riza Aziz forfeits RM248.7mil in property tied to 1MDB case

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 03 Sep 2020

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com): Riza Aziz (pic), the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures and producer of "The Wolf of Wall Street," has dropped his claims to US$60mil (RM248.7mil) worth of luxury real estate and other assets, including a lithograph poster for the 1927 film "Metropolis."

US prosecutors filed suit to seize the property in 2016 and 2017, as part of the global investigation of the pillaging of 1MDB, a Malaysian state-development fund. Prosecutors believe at least US$4.5bil (RM18.6bil) was looted from the fund in a scheme orchestrated by Jho Low, a Malaysian financier who remains in hiding.

The funds were used to buy luxury real estate, a yacht, artwork and to throw lavish parties.

Aziz, stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, faced criminal charges in Malaysia of laundering US$248mil (RM1.02bil). But those charges were dropped in May in exchange for the return of assets worth US$107mil (RM443.6mil).

Red Granite Pictures previously agreed in 2018 to pay US$60mil (RM248.7mil) in proceeds from its films to resolve asset forfeiture claims brought by US prosecutors. Leonardo DiCaprio also returned three artworks -- including a Picasso -- that had been given to him by figures in the scandal, as well as Marlon Brando's Oscar statuette.

Under the agreements filed in court on Wednesday, Aziz also gives up his claim to three lavish properties: the "Pyramid House" in Beverly Hills, a penthouse duplex in the Park Laurel tower in Manhattan and a London townhouse. He also forfeits any claim to US$28mil (RM116mil) held in a Huntington National bank account and the "Metropolis" poster.

The seized assets include the sale proceeds from a Kentucky maintenance company in which Aziz had an interest, according to prosecutors.

Aziz does not admit to any wrongdoing under the agreements.

The funds will be "used for the benefit of the people of Malaysia after deduction of the government's associated costs," according to a stipulation.

According to prosecutors, the US government has now assisted in the recovery of US$1.1bil (RM4.56bil) in embezzled 1MDB assets. - Variety.com

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