Like something out of the #Film itself, producer Riza Aziz and his company Red Granite Pictures are under investigation from the FBI for using illegitimate means to acquire the money to fund The Wolf of Wall Street. Aziz has denied claims he stole the money from a Malaysian development fund, saying he had no knowledge that the funding was illegitimate and that he “did nothing wrong.” The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort and was directed by Martin Scorsese, written by The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire's Terence Winter, and was nominated for five Oscars.
The allegations against Aziz have set the record for largest civil forfeiture suit involving offshore corruption, so at least he’ll get a spot in this year’s Guinness World Records, and it’s also safe to say he’ll enjoy a nifty new nickname in “The Wolf of Hollywood.” He may not face jail time as we learned from Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story that rich people’s financial crimes are never punished by U.S. courts, but at the very least, Aziz is in a lot of trouble with the IRS, having his assets seized. Anticipating this game of cat-and-mouse, Aziz quickly sent $238 million of his money to the Singapore branch of his company, where the IRS can’t get their hands on it. I’m sure they’ll find a way.
The Government of Malaysia’s strategic development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad has been faced with allegations of siphoning state funds in the past, such as in 2015, when state funds were siphoned into Prime Minister Najib Razak and co’s bank accounts. When he took over 1MDB as a state-run fund, Razak claimed it was to improve Malaysia’s economy, but according to the Department of Justice, it was really so Razak and his corrupt associates could use it as a “personal bank account.” Oh, and by the way, Razak just so happens to be Aziz’s stepfather. And speaking of corruption, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California alleges that a misappropriated bond was organised for 1MDB by Goldman Sachs. Ah, Goldman Sachs. Is anything they do legit?
Aziz claims the $94 million he received from 1MDB was a “gift,” which I doubt will go down swimmingly in a court of law. The Justice Department insists the funds were “stolen,” and the total amount has ballooned from $1 billion to $3 billion in the ongoing investigation over the past two days. The department is very keen to take Aziz down, releasing a 136-page civil complaint that charges Red Granite Pictures with partaking in “an international conspiracy to launder money” with 1MDB.
Red Granite released a statement saying that the suit would not affect their day-to-day operations, saying, “the company continues to move forward with exciting new projects.” Exciting new projects funded by stolen international money? Well, that remains to be seen. Let’s see in three years if the FBI sue Aziz for misappropriating public funds for his upcoming movies, revenge western The Brigands of Rattleborge and gritty George Washington biopic The General.
It’s difficult to ignore the irony. A hotshot Hollywood movie producer stole money out of the pockets of the little people of Malaysia to fund a movie that takes a critical standpoint against the greedy Wall Street fatcats who screw over innocent, hard-working Americans for their own financial gain. The irony is priceless. The financial pun with the word “priceless” is also priceless. #Lawsuit #Finance