Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ex-PM stepson, Riza Aziz arrested in Malaysia over 1MDB scandal

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Riza Aziz, the Malaysian producer of the Leonardo DiCaprio-starred film “The Wolf of Wall Street” was arrested Thursday on suspicion of money laundering as part of investigations into the 1MDB scandal, officials said.

Riza Aziz was detained in Malaysia after questioning by graft investigators and will appear in court Friday to face charges, said Latheefa Koya, head of the anti-corruption agency.

Riza is the stepson of Malaysia’s disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, and the son of the country’s former first lady Rosmah Mansor. Both Najib and Rosmah have been charged over the plundering of state fund 1MDB.

“I confirm (Riza) has been arrested today and was released on bail,” Latheefa told AFP, adding he would face charges under laws related to money-laundering.

A second agency official, who spoke anonymously, also said the arrest was linked to investigations into 1MDB.

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Billions of dollars were looted from the investment vehicle, allegedly by Najib and his cronies, and spent on everything from yachts to pricey artwork in a globe-spanning fraud.

Riza co-founded the Hollywood company Red Granite Pictures, and US officials allege that it was bankrolled by huge sums of pilfered 1MDB cash.

As well as the “Wolf of Wall Street” — a 2013 film about a massive stock market scam that netted its perpetrator millions of dollars — it produced the Jim Carrey movie “Dumb and Dumber to” and “Daddy’s Home”, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

In May, some US$57 million forfeited by Red Granite was returned to Malaysia and put into an account set up to recover money looted from 1MDB.

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The 1MDB scandal played a major role in Najib’s election loss last year.

Malaysia’s new government has re-opened probes into 1MDB, and Najib went on trial in April over the allegations.

The US Department of Justice, which is seeking to seize assets bought with 1MDB money in the US, believes some $4.5 billion was looted from the fund.

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