The Hollywood studio behind Martin Scorcese’s stinging movie about greed on Wall Street has been swept up in a multibillion-dollar financial scandal tied to the prime minister of Malaysia.
Red Granite Pictures, which produced The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was named on Wednesday in a federal complaint that alleges the studio was implicated in a money laundering scheme by an investment and development company called 1MDB.
The investment fund is owned by the government of Malaysia, whose prime minister Najib Razak has been targeted by the massive scandal.
Razak is the step-father of Riza Aziz, the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, which came up with the more than $100 million needed to finance the film.
The production house hit back at the allegations on Thursday insisting that it was not aware of any illicit funds being funnelled through the company. “To Red Granite’s knowledge, none of the funding it received four years ago was in any way illegitimate and there is nothing in today’s civil lawsuit claiming that Red Granite knew otherwise,” the company said in a statement.
“Red Granite continues to cooperate fully with all inquiries and is confident that when the facts come out, it will be clear that Riza Aziz and Red Granite did nothing wrong.”
According to the 136-page civil complaint filed by the US Justice Department, between June 2012 and November 2012, an investment firm tied to 1MDB sent 238 million dollars to an account controlled by Aziz.
About $100 million of these funds were subsequently sent to a bank account linked to the production house and used to fund its operations, including The Wolf of Wall Street.
Las Vegas gambling
Some of the money was also used for extravagant trips to Las Vegas where hundreds of thousands of dollars where spent gambling at The Venetian casino, according to the complaint. Among those who were invited to take part in a July 2012 gambling jaunt was “a lead actor in The Wolf of Wall Street who won a Golden Globe for the movie, according to the complaint.