Riza Aziz
Riza AzizReuters

Hollywood producer Riza Aziz, who is also the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was charged on Friday, July 5, for embezzling millions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.  

Popularly known for co-producing 'Wolf of Wall Street,' he was charged with five counts of money laundering by a Kuala Lumpur court. He was accused of receiving $248.2 million into personal Swiss bank accounts from the contentious state fund. Each count carries a five-year jail sentence respectively.

The charge sheet revealed that during 2011-2012, amount varying between $1.2 million to $133 million were channelled through Switzerland to his companies - Red Granite Productions Inc in Los Angeles and Red Granite Ltd in Singapore.

Riza was arrested on Thursday and pleaded not guilty for the charges. He was granted bail with a fine of $240,000 and was told to surrender his passports.

The corruption unit of the US Justice Department began a probe in 2015 and found Azis' company, Red Granite Pictures, to have transferred millions of dollars involving 1MDB funds. The investigation revealed that $155 million from the state fund was misappropriated to finance the 2013 Oscar-nominated film Wolf of Wall Street.

Red Granite Pictures agreed to pay $60 million in a settlement in 2018. However, the company said the settlement did not indicate "an admission of wrongdoings or liability on the part of Red Granite."

1MDB Scandal

1MDB is a state-run strategic development company that was earlier controlled by ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak. In 2015, it was revealed that Najib misappropriated nearly $700 million from the 1MDB funds.

After he was ousted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (present) in 2018, he was charged with 42 counts including abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust.