KUALA LUMPUR – Hollywood producer of the blockbuster “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio has been arrested in Malaysia on suspicion of money laundering.
Riza Aziz, stepson of former Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak pleaded not guilty on Friday to five counts of laundering money misappropriated from a Malaysian governments 1MDB investment fund.
The charges come after US prosecutors accused Mr Aziz’s production company of misappropriating money from a multi-billion dollar state fund to finance the Hollywood blockbuster.
The court granted Riza bail at one million ringgit (US$240,000) and asked him to surrender his passports.
According to Reuters his wife Rosmah Mansor has been charged with money-laundering and tax evasion, while his mother, stepfather and a close personal friend are also facing similar indictments.
The U.S. Justice Department has estimated that a total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level officials at 1MDB and their associates between 2009 and 2014.
1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.
U.S. prosecutors have said Riza Aziz production company Red Granite Pictures had financed three films using funds they suspect were stolen from 1MDB investment fund.
Red Granite Pictures co-founded by Riza Aziz paid the U.S. government $60 million in September 2017 to settle a civil forfeiture claim over the rights to “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
The scandal rocked Malaysia and led to the ouster of Mr. Najib last year, the first time that his party, the United Malays National Organization, had lost power in the country.
Source: Reuters, BBC