×

‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Producer Reaches Settlement in Federal Corruption Case

Red Granite Pictures, dogged for more than a year by its connection to a massive Malaysian corruption case, on Friday reached a settlement with federal prosecutors.

The Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture case in July 2016, seeking to recoup proceeds from “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Prosecutors alleged that Red Granite — whose CEO, Riza Aziz, is the step-son of Malaysia’s prime minister — used funds embezzled from a Malaysian development authority to produce the film.

The case was one part of a much broader effort to seize more than $1 billion in assets, out of $4.5 billion allegedly stolen from the development fund, known as 1MDB. Prosecutors have seized a Picasso and a Basquiat that were gifted to Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as an Oscar statuette that once belonged to Marlon Brando.

Details of the deal were not released. Red Granite has consistently maintained that it did not knowingly accept stolen funds. The company has been working for several months to resolve the case, and agreed to the appointment of an outside fiduciary to oversee the company’s operations. In an apparent vote of confidence, prosecutors in August agreed to put the company’s CFO back in charge of the company’s finances.

Red Granite is seeking to release “Papillon,” a remake of the 1973 Steve McQueen film that stars Charlie Hunnam, and has sought to dispel the cloud of alleged corruption surrounding the company.

In addition to resolving the government’s initial claim for “The Wolf of Wall Street” proceeds, the settlement resolves a subsequent claim for revenues from two other films, “Daddy’s Home” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”

The settlement does not end the legal difficulties for Aziz, who is also alleged to have used embezzled funds to purchase luxury real estate. In its original complaint, the government alleged that Aziz used stolen money to buy a $35 million condominium at the Park Laurel in New York, a $41.8 million townhouse in London, and a $17.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills. The civil cases seeking to seize each of those properties remain unresolved.

In a recent filing, in which prosecutors sought to put the asset forfeiture cases on hold, the government identified Aziz as one of the figures allegedly involved in criminal activity. U.S. investigators are working with their counterparts in several other countries to pursue criminal charges in the 1MDB scandal.

In a statement, Red Granite said, “We are glad to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to refocusing all of our attention back on our film business.”

The statement did not address Aziz’s position or future with the company.

More Biz

  • Photo taken July 18, 2019, from

    More Than 20 Feared Dead in Arson Attack on Japan's Kyoto Animation

    UPDATED: More than 20 people are feared to have died Thursday in an arson attack on the Kyoto Animation company in Japan, shocking a nation in which extreme violence is very rare. Emergency services in Kyoto City received a call about 10:35 a.m. local time Thursday reporting an explosion on the first floor of the [...]

  • Haim Saban

    Haim Saban Pledges to Invest $500 Million to Launch Music Label

    Businessman, investor and philanthropist Haim Saban, who heads the Saban Capital Group, has pledged to invest $500 million to launch a record label. Saban Music Group (SMG) will be led by music executive Gustavo Lopez and focus on “international A&R, artist development and strategically supporting a 360 model for artists,” reads a release announcing SMG, [...]

  • Street scene Sunset Boulevard at night

    In Los Angeles, Rock and Roll Fights to Save the Sunset Strip

    On a recent Saturday evening on Sunset Boulevard, just beyond the nightly caravan of European sports cars and open-air tour buses that have seen better days, the famous Tower Records building was once again bathed in the familiar red and yellow paint job of the iconic music store that once occupied its stone-brick walls. Though [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit From Artists Claiming Fire Damage

    Universal Music Group filed a motion on Wednesday to dismiss a class-action lawsuit from attorneys representing Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle and the estates of Tupac and Tom Petty over master recordings reportedly destroyed in a 2008 fire, the extent of which was revealed last month in a New York Times article. UMG argues that the musicians cannot pursue a [...]

  • After Yet Another Rejection, What Could

    After Yet Another Rejection, What Could Be Next for Woodstock 50?

    In the wake of the Town of Vernon’s third rejection of Woodstock 50’s permit application to hold its music festival at a venue in the Upstate New York municipality, one may well wonder what the troubled event’s next move might be. In the hours after the latest rejection was announced, even the optimistic-bordering-on-unrealistic producers sounded [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Case Dropped in Nantucket

    Nantucket prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey, citing the “unavailability” of the complaining witness. Spacey had been accused of groping an 18-year-old busboy at the Club Car restaurant in July 2016. He was charged with indecent sexual assault, and a trial was set to be held in the fall. However, [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Updates Staff on Fire Damage in Internal Memo (Read)

    Ahead of an expected motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last month by several artists over damage in the 2008 fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of master recordings, according to the New York Times, the company’s chief archivist, Pat Kraus, issued a memo to the staff that has been obtained by Variety. While the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content