Have you heard the phrase “Shit just got real”. Looks like it actually got real for Riza Aziz!!
In an ongoing case of life imitating art, Malaysian prosecutors charged Riza Aziz, co-founder of the Hollywood production company behind The Wolf of Wall Street, with five counts of money laundering.
Aziz pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is alleged to have received $248 million in illicit money from 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, the state investment fund established by his stepfather, disgraced former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Each of the five charges against him are punishable with a five-year prison term and a fine of 5 million Malaysian ringgit ($1.2 million).
Prosecutors alleged that the funds were used to purchase luxury real estate for Aziz in Los Angeles, New York and London, as well as to finance the brief foray of his company, Red Granite Pictures, as a high-flying Hollywood production banner. U.S. investigators have already shown in various lawsuits that the two biggest films backed by Red Granite, The Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To, were financed with money stolen from 1MDB. Red Granite has paid the U.S. government $60 million to settle claims related to the scandal.
Aziz arrived at a Kuala Lumpur court Friday morning accompanied by an eight-person legal defense team. As each of his charges were called out by the judge, Aziz reportedly replied, quietly, “Understand. Not guilty. Claim trial.”
The judge set bail at RM1 million ($240,000), and ordered Aziz’s passport surrendered to the court. Aziz’s lawyers pled for the bail to be payable in two installments, but the judge denied the request. The entire proceedings lasted just 20 minutes.