U.S. Returns Seized 'Wolf of Wall Street' Millions to Malaysia
The 1MDB scandal, in which an estimated $4.5 billion was illegally siphoned out of Malaysia and used to finance extravagant lifestyles and purchase luxury properties in New York and L.A., artwork, private jets, yachts and even a major foray into Hollywood, appears to be nearing resolution.
Malaysia's attorney general, Tommy Thomas, announced today that the country had received the first installment of funds seized by the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2016 the DOJ’s kleptocracy department filed the largest ever asset forfeiture complaint in U.S. history, citing $1 billion of ill-gotten gains, a figure that later rose substantially.
The initial tranche returned to Malaysia was for $57 million, which was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures, the production company behind the 2013 hit ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ The company, which also helped produce ‘Dumb and Dumber Too’ and ‘Daddy’s Home,’ was founded by Joey McFarland and Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak. The latter is now under trial in Malaysia for multiple counts of corruption relating to the 1MDB scandal, while Aziz has been interrogated by the anti-corruption police.
According to the attorney general, the U.S. Justice Department is now in the process of returning an additional $139 million, the result of the sale of a stake in Manhattan's Park Lane Hotel owned by Jho Low, the mysterious Malaysian financier at the heart of the entire corruption scandal. Low, a former acquaintance of DiCaprio's who was thanked in the credits to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ is currently on the run from authorities and facing arrest.
To date, Malaysia has recovered $322 million since its investigation into the 1MDB scandal began in May 2018, following the election that saw Razak ousted from power. "1MDB asset recovery efforts across the globe are still ongoing, and Malaysia is optimistic of recovering further monies in the coming money," said Thomas.