'The Wolf of Wall Street' producer settles US lawsuit linked to Malaysian fund 1MDB

Key Points
  • The maker of "The Wolf of Wall Street," has settled a U.S. government lawsuit to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from a Malaysian state fund 1MDB
  • The movie company, Red Granite Pictures, was co-founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's step-son
Authorities around the world, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore have looked into anti-money laundering breaches relating to 1MDB.
Olivia Harris | Reuters

The movie company that made "The Wolf of Wall Street", and was co-founded by the Malaysian prime minister's step son, has settled a civil lawsuit brought by the U.S. government to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from a Malaysian state fund.

Red Granite Pictures announced the settlement in a filing at the federal Los Angeles court on Friday, without revealing any sum.

U.S prosecutors, pursuing a kleptocracy asset recovery initiative, had claimed the 2013 film, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was financed by Red Granite using funds stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"The parties are pleased to inform the court that Red Granite and the government have reached a settlement in principle," the filing stated.

Red Granite has said previously that neither it, or its co-founder Riza Aziz, had done anything wrong.

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

The U.S. Justice Department has lodged dozens of lawsuits in the past two years related to the alleged misappropriation of $4.5 billion from the investment fund, 1MDB.

The United States is seeking to seize some $1.7 billion in assets, making it the largest action brought by the department under its kleptocracy asset recovery initiative.

The scandal has dogged Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had chaired 1MDB's advisory board until it was dismantled last year, but he has consistently denied any wrong doing related to the fund.

While Najib has not been the subject of any of the lawsuits, a number of his close associates, including step son Riza Aziz, have been named by U.S. investigators.

Both U.S. and Malaysian officials have confirmed however, that Najib is the "Malaysian Official Number 1" referred to in Federal Bureau of Investigation reports.

Red Granite Pictures provided no details of the settlement, which the filing said remains subject to final documentation and necessary approvals within the government.

The settlement also covers claims against Red Granite's rights and interests in two other pictures, "Daddy's Home" and "Dumb and Dumber To."

Potential witnesses in 1MDB cases are afraid to speak with U.S. investigators as they fear for their safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said earlier this month.

The U.S. lawsuits have also sought to seize a Picasso painting given to American movie star Leonardo DiCaprio and millions of dollars worth of jewellery given to Australian model and actress Miranda Kerr, all allegedly from 1MDB funds.

Najib met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House earlier this week, but both leaders steered clear of addressing the American investigation into the 1MDB scandal.