Red Granite to pay RM234 million to US over 1MDB allegations

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KUALA LUMPUR: Red Granite Pictures has agreed to pay US$60 million (RM234 million) to the US government to resolve allegations that it profited from corrupt money involving 1MDB, according to a report in Variety.

However, under the agreement, the producer of films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street” does not admit to any wrongdoing.

“We are glad to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to refocusing all of our attention on our film business,” Red Granite, whose CEO is Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, said in a statement.

Under the terms of the settlement, until the US$60 million is paid in full, Riza Aziz will not draw any salary from Red Granite above what is required to maintain health insurance coverage, the Variety report said.

US prosecutors filed a civil asset forfeiture action against the company in July 2016 as part of a broader effort to recoup more than US$1 billion allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has accused financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, of masterminding a scheme to steal US$4.5 billion from the fund.

US prosecutors allege that money taken from 1MDB was used to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home”.

1MDB, however, has said no money is missing and denies any wrongdoing.

Variety reported that Tuesday’s agreement required Red Granite to make the forfeiture payment in three instalments: US$30 million within 30 days, US$20 million within the next 180 days, and the final US$10 million within 180 days after that.

It added that while the case was pending, Paramount Pictures had held Red Granite’s profits from “Daddy’s Home”.

According to the report, under the agreement Paramount will transfer the amount to an account controlled by the government. After the first forfeiture payment of US$30 million, the government will release US$3 million of the Paramount funds to Red Granite to cover its operating expenses for the following 180 days. The balance of the Paramount funds will be released to the company upon full payment of the forfeiture.

Riza Aziz has claimed that he never knowingly used stolen funds for his film projects.

As part of the case, the government has taken possession of three artworks that Low and an associate gifted to Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

DiCaprio also agreed to turn over an Oscar that had been awarded to Marlon Brando, and which Red Granite had given him as a gift. DiCaprio was not accused of wrongdoing.