'Wolf of Wall Street' Corruption Scandal: The Assets

4:41 PM 7/21/2016

by Alex Ritman

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking to seize $1 billion in luxury goods and real estate owned by figures connected to Red Granite, the financier behind the 2013 hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Paramount

On July 20, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a formal complaint of forfeiture against assets owned by several individuals, including Riza Aziz, the co-founder of Wolf of Wall Street producer Red Granite. His L.A.-based shingle is accused of benefiting from a money-laundering scheme that saw hundreds of billions of dollars illegally siphoned out of a Malaysian fund called 1MDB. Alongside Aziz, another major figure in the complaint is Malay businessmen Jho Low, alleged to be behind much of the scandal, while Wolf star Leonardo DiCaprio is also referenced.

From $35 million Monet oil paintings to some of the most expensive properties ever bought in the U.S., the Department of Justice is now looking to seize $1 billion in assets connected to the scandal.

Here's a selection of what the DoJ is after.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    Mary Cybulski/Paramount Pictures

    Easily the highest profile aspect of the whole filing by the Department of Justice, the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring, Martin Scorsese-directed, $400 million-grossing hit and its production company Red Granite was financed via "tens of millions of dollars in funds" diverted from 1MDB, a Malaysian fund created to boost the country's economy. The DoJ asserts that Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and co-founder of Red Granite, received $238 million, sent to a bank account for Red Granite Capital and used to pay for luxury properties and his new production company. Jho Low, the Malaysian businessman at the heart of the corruption scandal (who reportedly introduced Aziz to DiCaprio), received a "special thanks" in Wolf of Wall Street's end credits. The DoJ is now looking to seize all future profits from the film.

  • Bombardier Global 5000

    Courtesy of Bombadier

    In one of his first major buys in the U.S., Low snapped up a Bombardier private jet — billed as having a "passenger experience rivaling some of the world's finest hotels" — in late 2009 from New York's J.T. Aviation Corp. According to the DoJ, the $35.3 million he used to buy the aircraft was ultimately traceable to Low's Good Star shell company and the 1MDB Malaysian investment fund.

  • Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills

    Google Maps

    This luxury hotel, managed by the Viceroy Group and a half-mile from Rodeo Drive, was bought by a company called Wynton in January 2010, using funds traceable from Low's Gold Star bank account, which the DoJ says were misappropriated from the 1MDB development fund. Documents from Low confirmed that L'Ermitage was wholly-owned by his own Jynwel Capital investment fund and that he sat on the Viceroy Group's board.

  • Vincent van Gogh's "La maison de Vincent a Arles"

    Courtesy of Christie's

    This pen and ink drawing by the Dutch master, dating to September 1888 and sent in a letter to his brother Theo, was bought in November 2013 for $5.5 million at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale. The DoJ complaint alleges Low eventually paid for the artwork using money traceable to the 1MDB fund, and an account in Singapore. The van Gogh drawing was seized by Swiss authorities on July 21.

  • Claude Monet's "Nympheas avec Reflets de Hautes Herbes"

    Courtesy of Sotheby's

    Inspired by his famous lily pond and dated from 1914-17, this 130 x 200cm oil painting by the French impressionist was bought by Low in June 2014 from Sotheby's for £33.8 million (approximately $57.5 million). According to the DoJ the money came from an account in Singapore traceable to the 1MDB investment fund. The painting was seized by Swiss authorities at the request of the U.S. government on July 21.

  • Monet's "Le Palais Ducal Vu De Saint Georges Majeur"

    Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

    Painted in 1908 in Venice, Monet's oil landscape of the Palazzo Ducale (seen from San Giorgio Maggiore) was part of a collection seen as among the French impressionist's most contemporary. Low purchased the painting, which once belonged to the Art Institute of Chicago, from SNS Fine Arts in December 2013 for $35 million, and later had it shipped to his storage in Geneva, Switzerland. The painting was seized by Swiss authorities on July 21.

  • Time Warner Center Penthouse

    Low's splashiest property purchase came in early March 2011, when he swooped in on one of the most expensive pads in New York. The 76th floor, 4,825-square-foot Time Warner Center penthouse overlooking Central Park and once rented by Jay-Z was bought for $31 million, with the DoJ asserting that the money came from funds traceable to Low's corrupt Gold Star account and the 1MDB Malaysian development fund.

  • Walker Tower Apartment

    @Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia/Creative Commons

    The nearly 6,000 square-foot, five-bedroom penthouse in Chelsea's Walker Tower became Manhattan's most expensive apartment when it was bought for $51 million by Khadem al-Qubaisi, an Emirati businessman closely associated with Jho Low and the Malaysian corruption scandal. Al-Qubaisi used part of $1.4 billion that been supposedly destined for an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund as payment for guaranteeing two Goldman Sachs bonds. Instead the money was funneled into an account with a similar name in the British Virgin Islands and from there into various accounts linked to the conspirators, including al-Qubaisi, who reportedly received more than $472 million. Al-Qubaisi had reportedly been looking to sell the apartment earlier this year.

  • EMI Music

    Don Arnold/WireImage

    The world's third largest music publishing company was bought for $2.2 billion in 2012, with Low joining a group of investors led by Sony, giving him a stake in the rights to songs by the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Robbie Williams. However, the DoJ asserts that Low laundered "at least" $106.6 million in misappropriated funds, traceable to a corrupt account linked to the 1MDB investment fund. As recent as February 2015, Low reported served as non-executive chairman, Asia, for EMI Music Publishing.

  • Park Lane Hotel

    Tony Hisgett/Flicker/Creative Commons

    Low's Jynwel Capital investment fund came on board as a majority investor when the 47-story Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South was bought for $660 million in November 2013. The DoJ filing asserts that $200 million of misappropriated funds were used by Low and his brother Szen Low to acquire an interest in an entity called Symphony CP, a partnership between New York real estate company the Witkoff Group and Jynwel. Low later claimed in an email that the money had come from his Malaysian family estate.

  • 118 Greene Street Condo

    Google Maps

    Low bought this luxury condominium in New Yorks' SoHo district in February 2014, according to the DoJ. The final purchase prince was $13.8 million, with the money traced back to Low's Good Star shell company and to the 1MDB investment fund.

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