Malaysian duo drop Wolf Of Wall Street lawsuit

Mr Riza Aziz is the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the producer of The Wolf Of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated movie.
Mr Riza Aziz is the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the producer of The Wolf Of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated movie.PHOTO: REUTERS

No reason given for dismissal of racketeering suit against film producers linked to PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR • The civil racketeering lawsuit filed in the United States by retired Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad's former political secretary and an opposition politician against the producers of Hollywood movie The Wolf Of Wall Street has been dropped, in the latest development in the corruption scandal embroiling state investment fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

According to entertainment portal The Hollywood Reporter, Mr Matthias Chang and Datuk Husam Musa, the former vice-president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia, voluntarily dismissed the suit on Friday without prejudice. No reason was given for the move.

The duo had filed the lawsuit against 1MDB, Goldman Sachs, film producer Riza Aziz and his company, Red Granite Pictures, last month.

Red Granite Pictures produced The Wolf Of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated film which featured Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of a stockbroker convicted of fraud.

The lawsuit was filed soon after the United States Department of Justice sought in July to seize US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) in assets allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MDB.

It said more than US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund, which was helmed by Prime Minister Najib Razak until May.

The Department of Justice's move escalated a widening international probe into the 1MDB corruption scandal, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal last year.

UNWARRANTED

The reality is that it was baseless from the start, a pure publicity stunt to manipulate public perceptions, and part of Tun Mahathir's plan to sabotage 1MDB and damage Malaysia's economy to unseat the democratically elected government.

MALAYSIA'S MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA SALLEH SAID KERUAK, on the lawsuit filed against The Wolf Of Wall Street producers.

Tun Dr Mahathir has since become one of Mr Najib's biggest critics.

The Department of Justice's filing named Mr Riza Aziz, the stepson of Mr Najib, and Mr Jho Low, a close friend of Mr Riza, as beneficiaries of this money.

Some of the missing funds were said to have gone into the making of the The Wolf Of Wall Street. Red Granite Pictures insists its source of funding was legitimate.

The company said in a brief statement on Friday that the lawsuit should never have happened in the first place, The Hollywood Reporter said. "Dismissing this frivolous lawsuit was the right thing to do because it never should have been filed in the first place. Red Granite continues to work on exciting new projects," the statement read.

Malaysia's Minister of Communications and Multimedia Salleh Said Keruak yesterday condemned the lawsuit as "baseless", reported The New Straits Times.

"The reality is that it was baseless from the start, a pure publicity stunt to manipulate public perceptions, and part of Tun Mahathir's plan to sabotage 1MDB and damage Malaysia's economy to unseat the democratically elected government," Datuk Seri Salleh was quoted as saying in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian duo drop Wolf Of Wall Street lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe