2:08pm PT by Ashley Cullins
'Wolf of Wall Street' Producer Red Granite Settles Forfeiture Case With U.S. Government
The Wolf of Wall Street producer Red Granite Pictures and the U.S. government have resolved the civil forfeiture case related to a Malaysian embezzlement investigation, according to a notice of settlement filed Friday in California federal court.
The feds had been seeking seizure of more than $1 billion in assets that were allegedly diverted by high-level Malaysian officials into shell companies, some of which may have been used to fund Red Granite's films. The company is run by CEO Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and prosecutors believed it received about $100 million of the embezzled funds. A separate civil forfeiture targeting profits from Red Granite's Daddy's Home and Dumb and Dumber To has also settled.
"The parties are pleased to inform the Court that Red Granite and the government have reached a settlement in principle. The contemplated settlement, which remains subject to final documentation and necessary approvals within the government, will fully resolve the actions ... and any other potential claims involving Red Granite or any of its assets, and will continue to hold harmless third parties that do business with Red Granite," writes Red Granite attorney Matthew Schwartz.
Red Granite issued a statement following the filing: "We are glad to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to refocusing all of our attention back on our film business."
Malaysian financier Jho Low is currently fighting seizure of his music publishing assets in connection with the embezzlement investigation. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer on Wednesday granted a motion to stay that civil case, along with the now-settled matters. He found the court has no reason to doubt the government's claim that "a criminal investigation is ongoing into the underlying money laundering allegations that form the basis for all of these civil forfeiture cases" and "the revelation of discoverable facts in these cases could reveal investigative methods of the investigation, subject witnesses and informants to intimidation or retaliation, and raise the potential for evidence destruction."