Riza Aziz, founder and CEO of Red Granite Pictures and the stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, has pleaded not guilty to laundering $248 million from a state investment fund.
He was arrested a day earlier in Malaysia following allegations of looting a massive investment fund set up by his step father.
Aziz was charged with five counts of money laundering and faces up to five years in prison, if convicted. He is the third person in his family charged in the 1MDB scandal that helped end Najib’s government last year.
Last year, a government task force said Najib’s arrest was connected to a suspicious multi-million-dollar transfer into his bank account from SRC International, a former subsidiary of the fund known as 1MDB. Riza was also questioned in the case.
1MDB is the fund U.S. investigators allege misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars. Investigators also say some of the money was used to fund the Martin Scorsese hit and other films on the Red Granite slate.
Following the stateside investigation, Red Granite in 2018 agreed to pay $60 million to the U.S. government to settle claims it benefited from the 1MDB scandal. The U.S., in turn, is returning the money to Malaysia.
Red Granite has denied any intentional wrongdoing.