The producers behind hit Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street have agreed to recompense the United States government to the tune of $60 million, following allegations that the film was funded with money stolen from a Malaysian state investment fund.
In the summer of 2017, Red Granite Pictures was implicated in a scandal in which around $3.5 billion of money from the government-run 1MDB fund was said to have gone to bank accounts of associates of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, and used for lavish expenses and investments over the world.
One of these vehicles is alleged to be Red Granite Pictures, which was co-founded by Riza Aziz, Najib’s step-son. It was said to have used misappropriated 1MDB money to fund not only 2013’s Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio film The Wolf of Wall Street, but also blockbuster movies like Dumb and Dumber To and Daddy’s Home.
Red Granite denied the accusations at the time, but according to a California court filing on Wednesday (March 7th), it has now agreed to pay the American government a sum of $60 million in three instalments: $30 million within 30 days, $20 million within the next 180 days, and the final $10 million within a final 180-day period.
However, the settlement explicitly states that the payments should not be construed as “an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of Red Granite”.
“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 subsequent statement on the court filing, according to Deadline.
Red Granite had been very obscure until it had stumped up $100 million to help finance The Wolf of Wall Street. Three months into shooting, Red Granite also gave the film’s star Leonardo Dicaprio a lavish birthday gift: the best actor Oscar given to Marlon Brando for On the Waterfront, worth around $600,000.
DiCaprio surrendered the statue in June 2016 as part of the 1MDB investigation, which is part of a wider $1.7 billion action by the US government to reclaim property allegedly bought with 1MDB cash.