KUALA LUMPUR: Red Granite Pictures has ageed to pay US$60 million (RM234 million) to the US government to settle allegations that it had profited from corrupt money involving 1MDB, Variety reported.
Under the agreement, however the producer of films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street” remains adamant it had not committed any wrongdoing.
In a press statement by Red Granite, the company expressed relief that the matter would be put behind in order to concentrate on its core business.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz is the company’s CEO.
Under the terms of the settlement, until the US$60 million is paid in full, Riza Aziz will not draw any salary from Red Granite above what is required to maintain health insurance coverage, the Variety report said.
Variety also reported that US prosecutors filed a civil asset forfeiture action against the company in July 2016 as part of a broader effort to recoup more than US$1 billion allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) has accused financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, of masterminding a scheme to steal US$4.5 billion from the fund.
US prosecutors allege that money taken from 1MDB was used to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home”.
Hoowever, 1MDB has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that no money had ever gone missing.
Variety reported that Tuesday’s agreement required Red Granite to make the forfeiture payment in three instalments: US$30 million within 30 days, US$20 million within the next 180 days, and the final US$10 million within 180 days after that.
It added that while the case was pending, Paramount Pictures had held Red Granite’s profits from “Daddy’s Home”.
According to the report, under the agreement Paramount will transfer the amount to an account controlled by the government. After the first forfeiture payment of US$30 million, the government will release US$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.
Riza Aziz has claimed that he never knowingly used stolen funds for his film projects.
He was also accused of using stolen funds to buy luxury real estate, including a US$35 million (RM136 million) condominium in New York, a US$41.8 million (RM163 million) London townhouse, and a $US17.5 million (RM68 million) mansion in Beverly Hills. The government is also seeking to seize those properties.
As part of the case, the government has 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.