Business

The Wolf Of Wall Street producer settles civil suit linked to 1MDB

KUALA LUMPUR The company that made the film The Wolf Of Wall Street and was co-founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's stepson has settled a civil lawsuit brought by the United States government to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from a Malaysian state fund.

Red Granite Pictures announced the settlement in a filing at the federal Los Angeles court last Friday, without revealing any sum.

US prosecutors had claimed that the 2013 film, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was financed by Red Granite using funds stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"The parties are pleased to inform the court that Red Granite and the government have reached a settlement in principle," the filing stated.

Red Granite has said previously that neither it nor its co-founder, Mr Riza Aziz, had done anything wrong.

The US Justice Department has lodged dozens of lawsuits in the past two years related to the alleged misappropriation of US$4.5 billion (S$6.05 billion) from 1MDB.

The US is seeking to seize some US$1.7 billion in assets, making it the largest action brought by the department under its kleptocracy asset recovery initiative.

DOGGED

The scandal has dogged Mr Najib, who had chaired 1MDB's advisory board until it was dismantled last year, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

While Mr Najib has not been the subject of any of the lawsuits, a number of his close associates - including Mr Riza - have been named by US investigators.

Both US and Malaysian officials have confirmed, however, that Mr Najib is the "Malaysian Official 1" referred to in Federal Bureau of Investigation reports.

Red Granite provided no details of the settlement, which the filing said remains subject to final documentation and necessary approvals within the government.

The settlement also covers claims against Red Granite's rights and interests in two other pictures, Daddy's Home and Dumb And Dumber To.

Potential witnesses in 1MDB cases are afraid to speak with US investigators as they fear for their safety, the FBI said earlier this month.

The US lawsuits have also sought to seize a Picasso painting given to DiCaprio and millions of dollars worth of jewellery give to Australian model and actress Miranda Kerr, all allegedly from 1MDB funds.

Mr Najib met US President Donald Trump at the White House last week, but both steered clear of addressing the American investigation into the 1MDB scandal. - REUTERS

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