Movie about cor­rup­tion tied up in cor­rup­tion

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

AS­MALL Hol­ly­wood stu­dio be­hind Mar­tin Scorcese’s sting­ing movie about greed on Wall Street has been swept up in a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fi­nan­cial scan­dal tied to the prime min­is­ter of Malaysia.

Red Gran­ite Pic­tures, which pro­duced The Wolf of Wall Street, star­ring Leonardo DiCaprio, was named last week in a fed­eral com­plaint that al­leges the stu­dio was im­pli­cated in a money laun­der­ing scheme by an in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment com­pany called 1MDB.

The in­vest­ment fund is owned by the gov­ern­ment of Malaysia, whose prime min­is­ter Na­jib Razak has been tar­geted by the mas­sive scan­dal.

Razak is the step­fa­ther of Riza Aziz, the co­founder of Red Gran­ite Pic­tures, which came up with the more than US$100 mil­lion needed to fi­nance the film.

The pro­duc­tion house hit back at the al­le­ga­tions on July 21, in­sist­ing that it was not aware of any il­licit funds be­ing fun­nelled through the com­pany

“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 in a state­ment.

“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.”

Ac­cord­ing to the 136-page civil com­plaint filed by the US Jus­tice Depart­ment, be­tween June and Novem­ber 2012, an in­vest­ment firm tied to 1MDB sent $238 mil­lion to an ac­count con­trolled by Aziz.

About $100 mil­lion of these funds were sub­se­quently sent to a bank ac­count linked to the pro­duc­tion house and used to fund its op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing The Wolf of Wall Street.

Some of the money was also used for ex­trav­a­gant trips to Las Ve­gas where hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars were spent gam­bling at the Vene­tian casino, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

Among those who were in­vited to take part in a July 2012 gam­bling jaunt was “a lead ac­tor in The Wolf of Wall Street” who won a Golden Globe for the movie, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

Al­though the court doc­u­ment does not name the ac­tor, it is clearly re­fer­ring to DiCaprio.

The ac­tor won a Golden Globe in 2014 for his por­trayal in the film of stock­bro­ker Jor­dan Belfort, who fleeced in­vestors of mil­lions of dol­lars be­fore end­ing up in prison.

As­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral Les­lie Cald­well told re­porters last week that all as­sets and rights to the movie would be seized as they stem from laun­dered money.

Ac­cord­ing to comS­core, the movie made $392 mil­lion. It was nom­i­nated for five Acad­emy Awards.

“Nei­ther 1MDB or the Malaysian peo­ple saw a penny of profit from that film or the other as­sets pur­chased with funds si­phoned from 1MDB,” Cald­well said. “In­stead, that money went to rel­a­tives and as­so­ci­ates of the cor­rupt of­fi­cials of 1MDB and oth­ers.”

Red Gran­ite said the com­plaint should not af­fect its on­go­ing op­er­a­tions.

“Red Gran­ite does not ex­pect the law­suit – which is lim­ited to fu­ture pro­ceeds gen­er­ated by a sin­gle film, and which was not filed against Red Gran­ite or any of its em­ploy­ees – to im­pact its day-to-day op­er­a­tions, and the com­pany con­tin­ues to move for­ward with ex­cit­ing new projects.”

Apart from The Wolf of Wall Street, the com­pany has pro­duced sev­eral other movies in­clud­ing Dumb and Dumber To, Horns and Friends with Kids. – AFP

Photo: AFP

US di­rec­tor Mar­tin Scors­ese at­tends a press con­fer­ence for the open­ing of an ex­hi­bi­tion about his work at the Cinematheque Fran­caise in Paris on Oc­to­ber 12, 2015.

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