Riza Aziz arrested by MACC (Updated)

04 Jul 2019 / 19:29 H.

PETALING JAYA: Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, has been arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Riza, who is also a Hollywood movie producer, will be brought to the sessions court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to answer several charges believed to be related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and his production house Red Granite Pictures.

In a brief text message to the media, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya confirmed the arrest which took place at noon today.

She said Riza would face charges under the Anti-Money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financing Act (AMLA) 2001.

“We would like to confirm that the MACC has arrested Riza Shahriz Aziz at 12 noon today and he has been released on bail. He has to appear in court tomorrow to face charges under AMLA,” her text message said.

Riza, who is the son of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor from a previous marriage, was questioned by the MACC for a total of 22 hours over several days in July last year in a probe on 1MDB.

The grilling by the graft busters then was part of an investigation into allegations that funds from 1MDB was used to finance films produced by Riza’s company, including the hit movie The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

It was later revealed that the movies Dumb and Dumber To and Daddy’s Home were also allegedly financed by Malaysian government investments.

Another report in March 2018 said that Red Granite Pictures agreed to pay US$60 million (RM248 million) to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to settle claims that it financed the three films with more than US$100 million (RM413 million) that was sourced from 1MDB.

Earlier, in September 2015, the DoJ launched investigations into property transactions carried out by Riza. The investigations were in relation to Najib’s role in 1MDB.

On July 20, 2016, he was also named in a Federal Bureau of Investigation lawsuit against 1MDB.

Riza and his business partner Joey McFarland are also alleged to have used more than US$4 million (RM16.5 million) to buy shares in a facilities management company in Kentucky.

The shares were among three 1MDB-linked assets sought by the DoJ in civil forfeiture suits filed in California. The duo allegedly bought a 43.37% stake in the company in June 2013.

Riza is also known to be a good friend of Low Taek Jho, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB scandal.

Low, better known as Jho Low, allegedly left money trails linking, among others, a prize collection of paintings, a super yacht and real estate assets, all of which had been purchased with money siphoned from 1MDB.

He is said to have acted as an advisor to Riza in the management of Red Granite Pictures.

He is also said to have spent US$41.5 million (RM167 million) on prime real estate in various parts of the United States that he later unloaded on Riza for huge profits.

In 2010 and 2011, Low bought three luxury homes for US$72 million (RM290 million). Riza subsequently bought two of those properties from him. Low allegedly made a 40% profit on one of the two deals.

Najib and Rosmah are currently in court facing a long list of charges related to 1MDB.

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