RM236 million from Riza’s Hollywood firm back in Malaysia, says AG

Riza Aziz, stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government has received some US$57 million (RM236 million) from Red Granite Pictures – the film production company linked to the stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak, Riza Aziz – which was accused of using money embezzled from 1MDB.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the sum was recovered by the Department of Justice (DoJ) last year following a US$60 million settlement recorded in a US court.

He said some RM3 million was deducted to pay DoJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for costs involved in investigating and securing the settlement.

Thomas said the sum is part of a total of US$322 million (RM1.3 billion) from the sale of assets linked to money embezzled from 1MDB, which includes about half-a-billion ringgit from the sale of a luxury yacht linked to runaway businessman Low Taek Jho.

He said a special trust account had been specifically opened to keep money from the asset recovery.

“Such recovery could not be achieved without the assistance and excellent cooperation that the Malaysian authorities enjoy with our counterparts in the US and Singapore. We express our gratitude to them,” said Thomas.

Riza’s Red Granite was accused of using more than US$100 million embezzled from 1MDB. A US$60 million settlement was reached with the company in September last year.

The sum is part of several civil asset forfeiture actions filed by DoJ between 2016 and 2019 to recover US$1.7 billion allegedly embezzled from 1MDB. US investigators believe that some US$4.5 billion was wrongfully diverted from 1MDB, in what is considered the biggest case by DoJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

DoJ previously said that three films produced by Red Granite – “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Daddy’s Home” and “Dumb and Dumber To” – were financed with money misappropriated from 1MDB.

The settlement reached with Riza stipulated among others that he would not draw any salary from his company during the payment period, while stating that it was not an admission of wrongdoing by Red Granite.

Thomas said Malaysia is awaiting another US$139 million from the recent sale of the Park Lane Hotel in New York, which was also linked to Low.

The AG said Malaysia is also awaiting S$35 million to be returned from Singapore, following disposal orders from Singapore courts over monies misappropriated from 1MDB.

He said some S$15 million was credited into the special recovery account between September last year and March this year.