• Movie was allegedly financed with stolen Malaysian funds
• Lawsuits are part of wider U.S. probe of stolen 1MDB funds
The producer of the “Wolf of Wall Street” agreed to pay $60 million to settle claims it financed the movie with money siphoned from a Malaysian state investment fund.
The settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and Red Granite Pictures Inc., which was co-founded by a stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, also covers U.S. forfeiture claims against the producer’s rights and interests in two other pictures, “Daddy’s Home” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”
The complaint targeting the 2013 picture, directed by Martin Scorsese, is among more than two dozen forfeiture lawsuits filed by the U.S. against $1.7 billion assets that were allegedly acquired with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd. The assets include mansions in Beverly Hills, California, luxury condos in New York, jewelry and artworks.
The Justice Department sought the profits, royalties and distribution proceeds that are owed to Red Granite Pictures. The movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio took in $392 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to the website Box Office Mojo.
“We are glad to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to refocusing all of our attention back on our film business,” Red Granite said in a statement.
Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson, is a friend of Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whom the U.S. alleges orchestrated the scheme to loot $4.5 billion from the Malaysian fund going back to 2009. Of the allegedly stolen money, $1.7 billion has been traced to assets in the U.S. and U.K.
Most of the civil forfeiture cases have been put on hold while the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation.
Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and his wife, engaged in contract negotiations to represent Jho Low, according to emails that his lawyer said were stolen when Broidy’s accounts were hacked.
The emails included talking points on why the U.S. should drop its 1MDB probe. One draft contract showed that the firm of Broidy’s wife, who is an attorney, could have made $75 million if they succeeded. It’s unclear what if anything came of the proposal. The Wall Street Journal first reported details of the effort.
The case is U.S. v. “Wolf of Wall Street,” 16-05362, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).