WOLF OF WALL STREET PRO­DUCER SET­TLES US FOR­FEI­TURE SUIT

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - ED­VARD PETTERSSON

The pro­ducer of The Wolf of Wall Street set­tled a for­fei­ture law­suit by the US Jus­tice De­part­ment al­leg­ing the movie was funded by money si­phoned from a Malaysian state in­vest­ment fund.

Lawyers for Red Gran­ite Pic­tures, which was co-founded by Riza Aziz, a step­son of Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak, said in a fil­ing in federal court in Los Angeles that they have reached a “set­tle­ment in prin­ci­ple” with the gov­ern­ment.

Terms of the set­tle­ment weren’t dis­closed. It will also cover US for­fei­ture claims against the pro­ducer’s rights and in­ter­ests in two other pic­tures, Daddy’s Home and Dumb and Dum­ber To.

“We are glad to fi­nally put this mat­ter be­hind us and look for­ward to re­fo­cus­ing all of our at­ten­tion back on our film busi­ness,” Red Gran­ite said in a state­ment.

The com­plaint against the 2013 pic­ture, di­rected by Martin Scors­ese, is among more than two dozen for­fei­ture law­suits filed by the US against $1.7 bil­lion as­sets that were al­legedly ac­quired with money stolen from 1Malaysia Devel­op­ment Bhd. The as­sets in­clude man­sions in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia, lux­ury con­dos in New York, jew­ellery and art­works.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment sought the prof­its, roy­al­ties and dis­tri­bu­tion pro­ceeds that are owed to Red Gran­ite Pic­tures. The movie star­ring Leonardo DiCaprio took in $392 mil­lion in world­wide ticket sales, ac­cord­ing to the web­site Box Of­fice Mojo.

Riza is a friend of Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the Malaysian fi­nancier whom the US al­leges or­ches­trated the scheme to loot $4.5 bil­lion from the Malaysian fund go­ing back to 2009. Of the al­legedly stolen money, $1.7 bil­lion has been traced to as­sets in the US and UK, in­clud­ing a stake in New York’s Park Lane Ho­tel, a stake in EMI Mu­sic Pub­lish­ing, a $35-mil­lion Bom­bardier Jet, and a $30-mil­lion pent­house at Time Warner Cen­ter.

Trusts for Low and his fam­ily are fight­ing law­suits seek­ing to for­feit those as­sets.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment last month asked a judge to put the civil for­fei­ture law­suits on hold be­cause it doesn’t want to have dis­close the iden­ti­ties of wit­nesses and other sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion while it’s pur­su­ing a par­al­lel crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

US prose­cu­tors in June es­ca­lated its ef­forts to re­cover as­sets they claim were ac­quired with stolen funds by fil­ing a sec­ond round of 1MDB-re­lated for­fei­ture law­suits. The new claims in­clude a $1.29 mil­lion heart-shaped di­a­mond and a $3.8 mil­lion di­a­mond pen­dant Low gave in 2014 to his then-girl­friend, ac­tress Mi­randa Kerr. Low al­legedly also gave a $3.2 mil­lion Pi­casso paint­ing to DiCaprio, ac­cord­ing to the new law­suits.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the US at­tor­ney’s of­fice in Los Angeles, de­clined to com­ment be­cause some de­tails of the set­tle­ment haven’t been fi­nalised yet.

BLOOMBERG

Low al­legedly also gave a $3.2 mil­lion Pi­casso paint­ing to DiCaprio, ac­cord­ing to the new law­suits

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