KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysian prosecutors yesterday dropped money laundering charges linked to the 1MDB scandal against one of the producers of Hollywood hit The Wolf of Wall Street after he agreed a settlement with the government.
Riza Aziz, who is also the stepson of the country’s disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, was arrested in July for allegedly receiving nearly USD250 million from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Billions of dollars were looted from the fund and spent on everything from a yacht to pricey art in a huge fraud that spanned the globe, and allegedly involved Najib and his cronies.
But a judge agreed to give Riza a discharge not amounting to an acquittal – meaning the charges have been dropped – after he agreed a settlement with the government, prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told AFP.
Ahmad declined to disclose the amount, but reports said it amounted to several million ringgit. One million ringgit is about USD230,000.
Riza had been accused of receiving USD248.17 million in 2011 and 2012 in illegal proceeds that came from 1MDB.
The money was sent to bank accounts of Hollywood production company Red Granite Pictures, which Riza co-founded.
Aside from The Wolf of Wall Street, which was about a huge financial scam and starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Red Granite also produced the Jim Carrey movie Dumb and Dumber To and Daddy’s Home.
Najib was voted out of power in 2018 in large part due to public anger at the 1MDB scandal, and has since been put on trial over the mammoth fraud. He denies any wrongdoing.
The alliance that ousted Najib, led by 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, reopened investigations into the scandal and started clawing back looted money.
But Mahathir’s government itself lost power earlier this year and was replaced by an administration that includes Najib’s party, raising questions about whether criminal proceedings linked to the controversy will continue.