Former Malaysian PM Najib's stepson Riza Aziz charged with money laundering

Hollywood producer Riza Aziz arrives at court in Kuala Lumpur on July 5, 2019. The stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is being charged with money laundering.
Hollywood producer Riza Aziz arrives at court in Kuala Lumpur on July 5, 2019. The stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is being charged with money laundering.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia on Friday (July 5) charged the Hollywood producer stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak with money laundering linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Prosecutors brought five money-laundering charges against Riza Aziz, a co-founder of Hollywood production firm Red Granite Pictures, which was behind the Oscar-nominated film The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Prosecutors alleged that Riza received a total of US$248 million (S$336 million) as a result of misappropriation of 1MDB funds.

Each charge carries a financial penalty of up to RM5 million (S$1.64 million), a maximum jail term of five years, or both.

Mr Riza pleaded not guilty to all charges. The court granted him bail at RM1 million and asked him to surrender his passports.

Since unexpectedly losing an election to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in May last year, Najib has been slapped with a series of corruption charges, mostly tied to losses at now-defunct 1MDB.

Najib founded 1MDB in 2009 and now faces 42 criminal charges related to huge losses at the fund and other state entities. He has pleaded not guilty and has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The United States Justice Department has estimated that a total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level officials at 1MDB and their associates between 2009 and 2014.

1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.

US prosecutors have said Red Granite had financed three films using funds they suspect were stolen from 1MDB.

Red Granite paid the US government US$60 million in September 2017 to settle a civil forfeiture claim over the rights to The Wolf Of Wall Street.