AG: US returned US$57m of 1MDB funds given up by Hollywood firm linked to Najib’s stepson

Riza Aziz is seen leaving the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya July 6, 2018. ―  Picture by Miera Zulyana
Riza Aziz is seen leaving the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya July 6, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — US authorities have transferred US$57 million (RM236 million) to Malaysia from funds it received from Red Granite Pictures that is linked to Riza Aziz, Attorney General Tommy Thomas said today.

Thomas said the payment was the first the US had executed, with additional transfers still to come.

“This sum was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures, a US-based film production company linked to former prime minister Najib Razak and his step-son Riza Aziz and arose from a US$60 million settlement recorded before the Court of California,” Thomas said in a statement.

The AG added that the US withheld US$3 million to cover its costs of investigations.

Last year, Najib said in an interview that he “assumed” the funds Riza obtained for Red Granite had been a loan from a UAE prince who wanted to invest in the movie industry.

Riza, a son from Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s previous marriage before Najib, is a co-founder of Red Granite that produced the Hollywood blockbuster, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Today, the AG reiterated that the US Justice Department (DoJ) has undertaken to return to Malaysia the value of assets and funds seized in its anti-kleptocracy investigations related to 1MDB.

“The DoJ is in the process of remitting a further sum of US$139 million which is the result of the sale of Jho Low’s interest in Park Lane Hotel, in Manhattan,” Thomas said.

In total, Malaysia has recovered around RM1.3 billion as the result of various investigations into 1MDB since the 14th general election, the AG added.

Thomas expressed the country’s gratitude to both the US and Singapore, that have been the first to repatriate funds allegedly embezzled from Malaysia via 1MDB.

“1MDB asset recovery efforts across the globe are still ongoing, and Malaysia is optimistic of recovering further monies in the coming months.”

Back in Malaysia, Najib, Rosmah, and senior leaders of the Barisan Nasional administration remain on trial over an assortment of charges ranging from money laundering to abuse, some of which are related to the state investment firm.

However, a central figure in the global corruption scandal, fugitive Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, remains at large and is believed to be residing in China.

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