Malaysian prosecutors drop money laundering case of $248 mn against The Wolf of Wall Street producer Riza Aziz

A sessions court judge ruled that the charges against Riza Aziz would be withdrawn without acquittal, after prosecutors said they had reached a deal which would see the government receiving “a substantial sum running into several million ringgit”.

Reuters May 14, 2020 13:45:00 IST
Malaysian prosecutors drop money laundering case of $248 mn against The Wolf of Wall Street producer Riza Aziz

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian prosecutors on Thursday dropped a $248 million money laundering case against a producer of Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street and the stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, citing a deal for an undisclosed amount of funds to be paid to the government.

Riza Aziz, the co-founder of Red Granite Productions that was behind the 2013 Oscar-nominated film, was charged with five counts of money laundering last year over allegations that he had received $248 million misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Malaysian prosecutors drop money laundering case of 248 mn against The Wolf of Wall Street producer Riza Aziz

Riza Aziz. Twitter

US and Malaysian authorities say about $4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB, co-founded in 2009 by then-premier Najib.

A sessions court judge on Thursday ruled that the charges against Riza would be withdrawn without acquittal, after prosecutors said they had reached a deal which would see the government receiving “a substantial sum running into several million ringgit”.

“The sums have direct reference to the subject matter of the charges framed in this case,” lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court, according to a copy of his statement made available to Reuters.

Gopal said steps would be taken to ensure a full acquittal for Riza upon completion of the deal.

Riza’s lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh declined to comment, saying he was not at liberty to disclose the terms of the settlement.

The US Department of Justice has said Red Granite financed three films, including The Wolf of Wall Street, using funds they suspect were stolen from 1MDB.

Red Granite paid the US government $60 million in September 2017 to settle a civil forfeiture claim over the rights to the films.

The United States has returned or assisted Malaysia with recovering around $600 million from the sale of assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds.

After losing an election to Mahathir Mohamad in 2019, Najib has been slapped with 42 criminal charges tied to losses at now-defunct 1MDB and other state entities. He has pleaded not guilty and has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Najib told Reuters in March, days after Mahathir unexpectedly resigned amid political turmoil, that he now expected an atmosphere more conducive to a fair hearing.

The case has also led to scrutiny of Goldman Sachs, which Malaysia has accused of misleading investors over bond sales totalling $6.5 billion that the bank helped raise for 1MDB. Three units of the bank have pleaded not guilty.

Updated Date:

also read

Britney Spears returns to Instagram a week after deactivating account: 'Couldn't stay away'
Entertainment

Britney Spears returns to Instagram a week after deactivating account: 'Couldn't stay away'

Britney Spears marked her return to Instagram by sharing pictures from her weekend getaway with fiancé Sam Asghari

Hong Kong filmmakers weigh in on state's censorship rules, culture clampdown
Entertainment

Hong Kong filmmakers weigh in on state's censorship rules, culture clampdown

The amendments of Hong Kong's Film Censorship Authority will determine whether a film contains elements that endanger national security.

Kangana Ranaut confirmed to play Sita in upcoming period drama
Entertainment

Kangana Ranaut confirmed to play Sita in upcoming period drama

Kangana Ranaut will play Sita in The Incarnation, which will be directed by Alaukik Desai.