In one of the biggest asset seizures in U.S. history, Federal prosecutors are expected to file civil lawsuits against “The Wolf of Wall Street” producer and financier Red Granite Pictures, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday.
Billions of dollars were allegedly drained out of a Malaysian government fund since it launched in 2009. The money trail led to Red Granite co-founder Riza Aziz, whose stepfather is the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Authorities are expected to seize millions in assets including properties and other belongings tied to the company.
A spokesperson for Red Granite was not available for comment. Aziz has consistently denied any wrong doing.
The Malaysian fund, known as 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB,) was supposed to help the country’s economy, but according to the F.B.I., the money was instead pumped into real estate in New York and Los Angeles–Aziz reportedly spent $50 million on two homes–and later funded Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s box office smash hit, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which grossed nearly $400 million worldwide in 2013. The film was deemed too raunchy and was not allowed to be screened in Malaysia.
The Journal has reported extensively in 1MDB and and frequently found itself at odds with the government and its departments. Among its allegations, it reported that $6 billion went missing from the 1MDB fund, which was overseen by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Malaysia’s Anti Corruption Commission has denied that any funds went directly from 1MDB to Prime Minister Razak. But investigative reporting by The Serawak Report alleged that hundreds of millions of dollars were paid instead by financier Jho Low — who receives special thanks on the credits of “Wall Street” — to both Razak and to Kahdem al Kubaisi, former chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Aabar fund.
The 1MDB scandal and the 2014 discovery of discovery of a payment of nearly $700 million into the bank accounts of Razak — which Razak says was a donation from a Middle East benefactor — have poisoned politics in Malaysia for the past several years. Razak has expelled former colleagues and demonized opponents over their accusations that he is linked to 1MDB.
And he has crimped media reporting of the scandal, by using police raids on news rooms, taking publications to court and blocking the Internet access of others. The Reporters Without Frontiers organization describes Razak as “waging a personal war against independent media” in order to suppress media coverage of corruption allegations.
It’s not the only drama “Wolf of Wall Street” is facing the Paramount drama this past year. In January, a judge ordered DiCaprio to give a deposition in a civil lawsuit over the portrayal of one of the film’s real-life bankers.
DiCaprio’s Appian Way banner was also a producer on the “Wolf of Wall Street,” which tells the story of Wall Street criminal and ex-banker Jordan Belfort, though neither Appian Way nor Scorsese are subjects of the F.B.I.’s investigation.
In addition to “Wolf of Wall Street,” Red Granite produced “Dumber and Dumber To,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “Out of the Furnace.”
Back in 2011, when Red Granite launched at the Cannes Film Festival, Aziz and its founders spent millions on a lavish private party along the beach for DiCaprio and producers of the film, which featured performances by Kanye West and Pharrell Williams in a tent surrounded by supermodels.