Wolf of Wall Street Producer May Testify in 1MDB Case

In a turn of events worthy of Hollywood, a man implicated in one of the most infamous heists in recent memory, who himself produced the box-office hit The Wolf of Wall Street, might take the stand against his stepfather, the former prime minister of Malaysia. 

Riza Aziz Producer from Red Granite PicturesRiza Aziz at a red carpet in 2014. (Photo: RGMedia LA, CC BY-SA 4.0). Prosecutors in the 1MDB case, in which according to the US Department of Justice some US$4.5 billion may have been misappropriated by high-level fund officials and their associates, said on Tuesday in the High Court of Kuala Lumpur that Riza Aziz could testify as a witness against his mother’s husband, former Malaysian PM Najib Razak, according to the Malay Mail

Aziz, director of Red Granite Pictures, the company that bankrolled Martin Scorcese’s 2013 hit The Wolf of Wall Street with money possibly stolen from the fund, has reportedly indicated his readiness to give evidence at Razak’s own trial on corruption charges for his alleged role in the scandal.

His possible cooperation with the prosecution comes soon after the court’s controversial decision last week to abandon five of the money laundering charges brought against him. 

The prosecution dropped the charges against Aziz after he agreed to return $108 million to the public treasury - less than half of the $250 million he is accused of stealing. Prosecutors emphasised that this did not amount to an acquittal, meaning that Aziz could still be tried if he does not hold up the end of any bargain struck with the state. 

Investigators believe Aziz, in cahoots with fugitive financier Jho Low, spent the money sustaining a lavish lifestyle, with the purchase of several luxurious mansions, as reported by OCCRP

The decision to drop the charges against him reportedly created a rift between two of Malaysia’s top prosecutors, with the country’s former and current attorneys general attempting to lay responsibility at one another’s doorsteps.

Tommy Thomas, who resigned from the position three months ago, on Monday publicly criticized his successor Idrus Bin Harun for approving the deal. “Riza is unnecessarily getting credit for returning money that is not his. Hence, it is a sweetheart deal for Riza but terrible for Malaysia,” Thomas claimed. 

While he was attorney general, he added, never had he considered favourably a request to settle ”on such terribly poor terms to the prosecution”. 

“That would have called into question the wisdom and integrity of my decision to prosecute in the first place,” he said.

Idrus Bin Harun and the anti-corruption commission replied by alleging that Thomas had agreed a deal with Aziz on principle last November, paving “the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted.” 

Malaysia’s Attorney General’s office could not be reached for comment.