Riza Aziz denies Red Granite used 1MDB money


PETALING JAYA: Red Granite has denied that it had received any funds from Malaysian state-owned investment firm 1MDB, entertainment newspaper Variety reported.

The US-based production company behind the Oscar-nominated Wolf of Wall Street, was named as one of the recipients of money misappropriated from 1MDB, by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in a special press conference yesterday.

Red Granite CEO Riza Aziz was also implicated in the DoJ’s action to seize assets “involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB”.

The company issued a statement yesterday stating that its executives did not knowingly use illicit funds, Variety reported.

“To Red Granite’s knowledge, none of the funding it received four years ago was in any way illegitimate and there is nothing in today’s civil lawsuit claiming that Red Granite knew otherwise,” the company said according to Variety.

“Red Granite continues to cooperate fully with all inquiries and is confident that when the facts come out, it will be clear that Riza Aziz and Red Granite did nothing wrong.”

The DoJ filed lawsuits yesterday saying that over US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.

In its lawsuits, filed in Los Angeles, DoJ said it sought to seize assets which include penthouses, mansions, artwork, a private jet and proceeds from the “Wolf of Wall Street” movie.

The DoJ said the suit seeks the return of US$1 billion in allegedly misappropriated funds which originated from the Malaysian state-owned investment fund.

Riza, who is the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Razak, was previously reported to have denied taking money from 1MDB.

“There is no Malaysian money,” he told the New York Times when questions were raised about the issue in 2014.

However, DoJ’s assets forfeiture suit contends that Red Granite Pictures received US$64 million that can be traced back to 1MDB.

The suit also seeks the return of any future revenues from “The Wolf of Wall Street” that are due to Red Granite.

The production company said its operations will not be affected by the DoJ’s actions.

The DoJ also alleged offences were committed over a four-year period and involved multiple individuals, including Malaysian officials and their associates, who conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Aside from Riza, the suit specifically named Low Taek Jho (better known as Jho Low), and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.