Another suspect in the 1MDB embezzlement scandal has agreed to give up assets allegedly linked to the scheme, which includes luxury properties in New York, Los Angeles and London.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it had reached a settlement with Riza Aziz — stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, and producer of “The Wolf of Wall Street” — to give up his claims on more than $60 million worth of assets which were allegedly acquired using money from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Together with prior forfeiture cases, which included settlements with scheme mastermind Jho Low and Emirati co-conspirator Khadem Al-Qubaisi, the total sum of recovered assets is now close to $1.1 billion, according to the DOJ.
“With more than $1 billion forfeited as a result of our 1MDB-related asset forfeiture cases, we continue to shed light on the massive fraud and money laundering scheme that brazenly stole public funds belonging to the people of Malaysia,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.
“The high-end properties across the nation that have now been seized and forfeited demonstrate our commitment to preventing corrupt actors from using the United States as a place to hide stolen riches.”
The assets in question include three luxury properties: a 7,700-square-foot duplex in the Park Laurel condo tower at 15 West 63rd Street in Manhattan, which Aziz bought for $33.5 million in 2012; an 11,000-square-foot walled mansion at 912 Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills, bought for $17.5 million from Low; and a four-story townhouse in London’s exclusive Belgravia neighborhood, bought for $34 million.
Non-real estate assets also include an investment made by Aziz in a Kentucky maintenance company, and “a promotional poster for the 1927 motion picture film ‘Metropolis.’” The settlement is not intended to be an admission of wrongdoing, court documents note.
Aziz’s production company, Red Granite, produced the critically acclaimed “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well as a less critically acclaimed “Dumb and Dumber” sequel. The company reached a $60 million settlement with the U.S. government in 2018. The company was accused of using $100 million in funds embezzled from 1MDB.
Previously forfeited 1MBD-linked properties have hit the market at a tough time. Low’s former Soho condo sold for $7.6 million — a roughly 45 percent discount from its last sale price — in May. And a Walker Tower condo onced owned by Al-Qubaisi recently closed at an even steeper 64-percent discount over objections from the condo board.
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