×

‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Producer to Pay $60 Million in Malaysia Corruption Case

Red Granite Pictures has agreed to pay $60 million to the U.S. government in order to resolve allegations that it profited from a massive Malaysian corruption scandal.

The company, which produced “The Wolf of Wall Street” among other films, filed a joint stipulation with federal prosecutors on Tuesday. Under the agreement, Red Granite does not admit to any wrongdoing.

“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 company said in a statement.

Prosecutors filed a civil asset forfeiture action against the company in July 2016, as part of a much broader effort to recoup more than $1 billion allegedly embezzled from 1MDB, a Malaysian state-run development fund. The Justice Department has accused financier Jho Low of masterminding a scheme to steal $4.5 billion from the fund.

Riza Aziz, the CEO of Red Granite, is the stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister and a close friend of Low’s. Prosecutors alleged that he used more than $100 million taken from 1MDB to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home.”

The agreement provides that Red Granite will make the forfeiture payment in three installments: $30 million within 30 days, $20 million within the next 180 days, and the final $10 million within 180 days after that.

While the case has been pending, Paramount Pictures has held Red Granite’s profits from “Daddy’s Home.” Under the agreement, Paramount will transfer that amount to an account controlled by the government. After the first forfeiture payment of $30 million, the government will release $3 million of the Paramount funds to Red Granite, to cover its operating expenses for the following 180 days. The balance of the Paramount funds will be released to the company upon full payment of the forfeiture.

Red Granite can apply to receive some of the Paramount funds early, but only if for “ordinary course” transactions. Under the terms of the settlement, Aziz is not drawing any salary from Red Granite above what is required to maintain health insurance coverage. That will continue until the $60 million is paid in full.

Aziz has claimed that he never knowingly used stolen funds for his film projects. Aziz was also accused of using stolen funds to buy luxury real estate, including a $35 million condominium in New York, a $41.8 million London townhouse, and a $17.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills. The government is also seeking to seize those properties.

As part of the case, the government has also taken possession of three artworks that Low and an associate gifted to Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio also agreed to turn over an Oscar that had been awarded to Marlon Brando, and which Red Granite had given him as a gift. DiCaprio was not accused of wrongdoing.

More Biz

  • Rufus Wainwright Signs With BMG for

    Rufus Wainwright Signs With BMG for New Studio Album

    Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has signed a new global recordings agreement with BMG to release his upcoming studio album. The still-untitled album, Wainwright’s ninth of original material and first since 2012, is described in the announcement as “a return to form and his most accessible album to date.” To that end, it is “the bookend” to [...]

  • Kevin Feige Marvel Studios Variety Cover

    Kevin Feige Named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel

    Kevin Feige’s universe continues to grow. The mastermind of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been named Chief Creative Officer, Marvel in addition to being president of Marvel Studios, Variety has learned. He will now be responsible for the overall creative direction of Marvel’s storytelling across mediums, including publishing, film, TV, and animation. Marvel Television and [...]

  • China presentation mipcom

    Reality Shows, Rom-Coms and Ping Pong Dramas: Chinese Producers Show Off TV Exports

    At its best, television serves as a mirror for its audience. This year, the Mipcom conference trained its annual country-of-focus spotlight on original TV content produced in China. That proved to be a timely choice as the conference came on the heels of last week’s headline-making clashes between Chinese and Western cultural values in the [...]

  • Felicity Huffman

    Felicity Huffman Reports to Federal Prison to Serve Two-Week Sentence

    Felicity Huffman reported to federal prison in Dublin, Calif., on Tuesday morning to begin her two-week sentence for paying to cheat on her daughter’s SAT test. Huffman pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, admitting that she paid $15,000 to consultant Rick Singer to boost her daughter’s SAT score. Judge Idira Talwani sentenced her last [...]

  • Sallie Krawcheck

    Sallie Krawcheck's Ellevest Launches Women-Focused Impact Investment Platform

    Ellevest, the female-focused investment platform headed by Sallie Krawcheck, has launched an impact investment fund that will court high-net-worth women in entertainment and other sectors who want to tailor their stock portfolios to favor companies with good track records on a range of social concerns. Krawcheck, who was one of the highest-ranking women on Wall [...]

  • LeEco founder Jia Yueting

    LeEco Founder Jia Yueting Files for Bankruptcy in the U.S.

    Jia Yueting, the colorful Chinese entrepreneur who founded the LeEco electronics-to-video streaming group, has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Jia, sometimes known as YT, has debts on both sides of the Pacific and has been in the U.S. from late 2017, in defiance of an order from the China Securities Regulatory Commission to return [...]

  • Lakers NBA China Criticism

    From the NBA to 'South Park,' China Refuses to Play Ball With Its Critics

    The Oct. 12 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets in the Chinese city of Shenzhen might have seemed like business as usual, with thousands of basketball fans out in force for the rare opportunity to see their beloved NBA teams compete live. But below the surface, tensions were high at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content