Judge Pauses ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Corruption Case

Judge Pauses Red Granite Pictures Civil
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

A federal judge on Wednesday agreed to pause the asset forfeiture case against Red Granite Pictures, as investigators continue to pursue criminal charges in the sprawling 1MDB scandal.

Red Granite is accused of using funds embezzled from the Malaysian development fund to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “Dumb and Dumber To.” The government is seeking to seize revenues from each of those films. In a court filing objecting to the delay, Red Granite’s attorneys noted that the company “has a strong interest in clearing its name promptly.”

Judge Dale S. Fischer was set to hear arguments on the issue next Monday. Instead, she granted the government’s request for a delay without argument in a written ruling.

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“The government has stated that the revelation of discoverable facts in these cases could reveal investigative methods of the investigation, subject witnesses and informants to intimidation or retaliation, and raise the potential for evidence destruction,” she wrote. “Given the complex nature of the alleged crimes and the sensitive political and diplomatic issues involved, it is apparent that revelation of any significant amount of information by the government could endanger the operation of the criminal investigation.”

Red Granite has issued optimistic statements about ongoing negotiations with the prosecution, and has expressed hope of reaching a settlement. However, in a filing on Sept. 5, prosecutors identified the company’s CEO, Riza Aziz, as among those allegedly involved in “underlying criminal activity.” Aziz is the stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak.

In a motion in a related forfeiture case, Aziz’s attorneys blasted the government’s requested stay as a violation of due process rights.

“To Claimant’s knowledge, there is literally no precedent for a stay that would require claimants to wait in limbo indefinitely as the government pursues an investigation with no specified target and no foreseeable end,” wrote attorney Matthew Schwartz.

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