03 April 2016

US$155m of 1MDB funds went to Najib's stepson...

US$155m of 1MDB funds went to ‘Wolf of Wall Street’...

Investigators in two countries believe that US$155 million (RM603 million) from 1MDB went to production company Red Granite Pictures to make the 2013 hit movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report.

The money from Malaysia’s troubled investment fund was transferred to Red Granite in 2012 through a circuitous route involving offshore shell companies, said WSJ, according to people familiar with the probes, and supported by documents reviewed by the global financial daily.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, 39, is the chairman of Red Granite, a production movie house set up on 2010.

Despite being virtually unknown, Red Granite raised US$100 million to make ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, a sex and drug fuelled story of a penny-stock swindler starring Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

“The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued subpoenas to several current and former employees of Red Granite and to a bank and an accounting firm the company used, according to people familiar with the subpoenas,” said the WSJ report.

A spokesperson for Red Granite said that the company was “responding to all inquiries and cooperating fully” with the investigations. He said the production house had no reason to believe the source of its financing was irregular.

Producer Riza Aziz, left, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie arriving for the U.K. premiere of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ in London in 2014.

Riza (far left in photo) had previously denied that Red Granite was funded by money originating from Malaysia. He said in a 2014 New York Times interview that its main investor was Abu Dhabi businessman Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

“Mr Al-Husseiny is an American who then headed Aabar Investments PJS, which is an arm of an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund known as IPIC. The state-owned firms did business with 1MDB. For instance, IPIC guaranteed some of the Malaysian fund’s bonds.

“In connection with the IPIC guarantees, 1MDB reported in corporate filings that in 2012, it sent $1.4 billion to Aabar as collateral,” said WSJ. Continue Reading...

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