Feds Say 'Wolf of Wall Street’ Producer Can Do Business During Legal Probe (Exclusive)
In a stipulation to its July 20 civil lawsuit, the DoJ has clarified that the goverment's complaint is aimed strictly at the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio starrer and not the film's producer.
The U.S. Department of Justice has granted a small reprieve to Red Granite Films, allowing the embattled production company behind The Wolf of Wall Street to operate as usual during a federal investigation into its connection to an alleged Malaysian money-laundering scheme.
On July 20, the DoJ filed a complaint seeking the forfeiture of rights to the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer. According to the government, Wolf was financed in part by money diverted from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund called 1MDB. The complaint alleges that as much as $238 million of the fund was funneled into Wolf producer Red Granite, whose CEO and co-founder, Riza Aziz, is the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The action shined a glaring spotlight on the company, which has also put money into movies such as Daddy’s Home and Dumb and Dumber To. But on Monday, the DoJ filed a stipulation to the complaint to clarify that the action is aimed at The Wolf of Wall Street and does not extend to any individuals or other productions produced by Red Granite, including past productions or the upcoming Charlie Hunnam starrer Papillon, which is set to begin shooting in September.
The stipulation, obtained by THR, states that the civil lawsuit was “not filed against Red Granite Pictures, Inc. or its affiliates and/or assigns, or any of its employees or agents…or against any other motion picture assets of Red Granite’s.”
The move appears intended to allow other entities to do business with Red Granite while the civil action is being pursued. "For actions taken during the pendency of this Stipulation, the United States likewise agrees to hold harmless for all purposes any studio, distributor, trade vendor, or any other person as a result of engaging in ordinary course business dealings with Red Granite,” the stipulation states.
"The purpose of the stipulation is to leave in place Red Granite’s ability to operate," John Kucera, assistant U.S. attorney for the central district of California, tells THR. "The intent is that their normal business operations not be disturbed."
Red Granite interpreted the move as a victory in the case, albeit a temporary one.
“Today we announce in no uncertain terms that Red Granite remains open for business, and that everyone involved with Red Granite can confidently continue to do business with us in the wake of the civil lawsuit filed by the government last month,” a Red Granite spokesperson tells THR in a statement. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement that clarifies that the government's lawsuit is not aimed at Red Granite but rather concerns only a single motion picture. The agreement also makes clear that the government has no interest in interfering with Red Granite’s ongoing business and that there is nothing about its lawsuit that should prevent anyone from working with Red Granite."