Former Malaysian Prime Minister Arrested in Case Linked to 'Wolf of Wall Street' Corruption Scandal

Paramount Pictures/Photofest
Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' (2013)

Najib Razak set up the 1MBD sovereign wealth fund, from which billions of dollars are alleged to have been stolen.

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been arrested as part of investigations into the multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal, in which money was siphoned from a sovereign wealth fund and allegedly used to finance, among many things, the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street. 

The arrest was made Tuesday in Malaysia by the country's anti-corruption task force and comes less than two months after Razak lost a shock election that saw him removed from power. In the weeks that followed, investigations into Razak were reopened, he was banned from leaving the country and his various properties were searched.

Razak, who was cited in the U.S. Justice Department's largest-ever forfeiture complaint in 2016, helped establish and headed up the 1MDB fund, which has been accused of being used as a personal piggy bank by the former prime minister and his inner circle, including colorful playboy Jho Low, now on the run as he attempts to escape extradition.

Billions of dollars were allegedly used to fund lavish lifestyles, including luxury properties in the U.S., private jets, yachts, handbags, jewelry, artwork and a foray into Hollywood with the setting up of Red Granite Pictures, which famously produced The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as Dumb and Dumber 2, Daddy's Home and others.

Media sources in Malaysia claim that charges are expected to be brought against Razak on Wednesday. 

The arrest was made just as Razak's stepson Riza Aziz, who co-founded Red Granite and produced Wolf of Wall Street, was giving evidence to Malaysia's anti-corruption commission. Aziz is alleged to have received $238 million in laundered 1MDB funds, $64 million of which which was used to set up the production company.