KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday (Jul 5) charged the Hollywood producer stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak with money laundering, alleging he misappropriated US$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.
Riza, who was arrested on Thursday, pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Each charge carries a financial penalty of up to RM5 million (US$1.21 million), a maximum jail term of five years, or both.
The court granted Riza bail at RM1 million and asked him to surrender his passports.
After unexpectedly losing an election to Dr 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.
1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.
Billions of dollars were looted from the investment vehicle, allegedly by Najib and his cronies, and spent on everything from yachts to pricey artwork in a globe-spanning fraud.
Riza co-founded the Hollywood company Red Granite Pictures, and US officials allege that it was bankrolled by huge sums of pilfered 1MDB cash.
As well as The Wolf Of Wall Street - a 2013 film about a massive stock market scam that netted its perpetrator millions of dollars - it produced the Jim Carrey movie Dumb And Dumber To and Daddy's Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
In May, about US$57 million forfeited by Red Granite was returned to Malaysia and put into an account set up to recover money looted from 1MDB.