‘Wolf of Wall Street’ producer charged with 1MDB money laundering in Malaysia

Riza Aziz, producer of the Hollywood film "The Wolf of Wall Street and stepson of Malaysia's disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, arrives for a court appearance at Duta court in Kuala Lumpur on July 5, 2019. (AFP / Mohd Rasfan)
Updated 05 July 2019
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‘Wolf of Wall Street’ producer charged with 1MDB money laundering in Malaysia

  • Riza Aziz, a co-founder of Hollywood production firm Red Granite Pictures, is the stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak
  • He is accused of misappropriated $248 million linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday charged one of the “Wolf of Wall Street” film producers, and stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak, with money laundering, alleging he misappropriated $248 million linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Riza Aziz, a co-founder of Hollywood production firm Red Granite Pictures that was behind the Oscar-nominated film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was charged with five counts of money laundering.
Prosecutors alleged Riza received a total of $248 million as a result of misappropriation of 1MDB funds.
Riza pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Each charge carries a financial penalty of up to five million ringgit ($1.21 million), a maximum jail term of five years, or both.
The court granted Riza bail at one million ringgit and asked him to surrender his passports.
After unexpectedly losing an election to Mahathir Mohamad in May last year, Najib has been slapped with a series of corruption charges, mostly tied to losses at now-defunct 1MDB.
Najib, who founded 1MDB in 2009, faces 42 criminal charges related to huge losses at the fund and other state entities. He has pleaded not guilty and has consistently denied wrongdoing.
The US Justice Department has estimated that a total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level officials at 1MDB and their associates between 2009 and 2014.
1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.
US prosecutors have said Red Granite had financed three films using funds they suspect were stolen from 1MDB.
Red Granite paid the US government $60 million in September 2017 to settle a civil forfeiture claim over the rights to “The Wolf of Wall Street.”


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.