KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Lawyers representing the firm of Hollywood producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz are demanding whistleblower website Sarawak Report retract reports alleging impropriety in its funding of US film “The Wolf of Wall Street” under the threat of legal action.
According to a report by entertainment website BuzzFeed, a letter of demand was issued to Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the operator of the Sarawak Report, that accused her of publishing “false, defamatory and malicious” statements regarding Red Granite Pictures, the production house at which Riza is chief executive.
Among the allegations that the firm disputed were that the Red Granite Pictures was funded using “ill-gotten wealth” from Malaysia, that “The Wolf of Wall Street” was dropped by major studios but resurrected upon the firm’s involvement, and the firm was a Malaysian concern.
Red Granite’s lawyers, Loeb & Loeb LLP based in Santa Monica, California are demanding for Rewcastle-Brown to remove the offending articles and publish an unconditional apology over the reports.
She was also directed to ensure that all subsequent media reports that stemmed from her original also be removed, and will be liable for legal fees incurred Red Granite over the matter.
The reports last month by Rewcastle-Brown, the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, led to demands by opposition lawmakers for Riza to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over a reported purchase of a RM110 million apartment in New York.
But the MACC said on December 30 that it was not empowered under the law to investigate such “mismatch” of income against “excessive” assets, but added it was hoping for an amendment to be tabled in Parliament next year that will allow it to do so.
“Although the investigation of asset ownership that does not match the income is not MACC’s complete function, the MACC welcomes if this clause is inserted into the list of amendments to the MACC Act 2009 that will be brought to Parliament next year,” the MACC said.
Riza is the stepson of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.