1MDB denies funds went to Wolf of Wall Street


PETALING JAYA: 1Malaysia Development Bhd has denied a suggestion by the Wall Street Journal that funds from the government-owned company were used for the film The Wolf of Wall Street.

The company said it had never invested in, nor transferred funds to the production company Red Granite Pictures, whether directly or via intermediaries.

“Any statement to the contrary is false”, it said in a statement today. “We, therefore, deny any suggestion that 1MDB funded the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, or had any involvement with the film in any capacity, as has been alleged or implied in some recent media reports.”

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal had reported that investigators in two countries believed that US$155 million (RM600 million) in funds linked to 1MDB had flowed to Red Granite Pictures.

The film production company was set up in 2010. Its chairman is Riza Aziz, 39, son of Rosmah Mansor and stepson of the Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the life story of a penny-stock swindler, featured Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, made US$400 million at the box-office. Among those listed in its credits is Penang-born businessman Jho Low (Low Teak Jho) who has been named in news reports as a college mate of Riza and close to Najib’s family.

The prime minister has denied any involvement in 1MDB’s affairs or with the Red Granite.

The Wall Street Journal, a US-based financial daily, reported that money from 1MDB went to Red Granite in 2012 through several offshore shell companies.

It said the US Federal Bureau of Investigations had issued subpoenas to several current and former employees of Red Granite and to a bank and an accounting firm the company used.

Red Granite has said that the company was cooperating fully, and denied any irregular financing. Riza had told the New York Times in 2014 that the main investor was an Abu Dhabi businessman, Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny, the then head of an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.

The Wall Street Journal alleged that a payment of US$1.4 billion from 1MDB that were supposed to be paid to a business partner, Aabar Investments PJS, went instead to an “identically-named company” set up by Al-Husseiny in the British Virgin Islands.

About US$155 million of this money then went to Red Granite Capital, formed by Riza Aziz to fund the film company, according to the report. The company has said that it had been repaying its loans, and the Journal, quoting investigators, said US$50 million had been repaid. It raised questions about repayment of the balance as the company in the British Virgin Islands had been liquidated.

Al-Husseiny and another person, Khadem Al Qubaisi, had since been removed from the Abu Dhabi companies, the report said.