Man behind ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ goes after Riza Aziz for fraudulent financing

Justin Ong
Cast member Leonardo DiCaprio arrives for the premiere of the film adaptation ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ in New York December 17, 2013. Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort is suing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, for allegedly deceiving him about the source of funds used to finance the movie. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort has sued former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, in the US for allegedly deceiving him about the source of funds used to finance the Wolf of Wall Street movie.

Belfort, whose criminal enterprise was the basis of the award-winning Martin Scorsese movie, is seeking US$300 million (RM1.22 billion) in damages from Riza.

According to the LA Times news site, Belfort said he and others have suffered as a result of allegations that the movie’s funds came from money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB in Malaysia.

Belfort filed his lawsuit in Los Angeles, California yesterday, naming Red Granite Pictures as the respondent.

Riza co-founded Red Granite Pictures that financed Wolf of Wall Street, but is now on trial here in Malaysia for money laundering over the same funds.

His stepfather, Najib, is also facing a litany of criminal charges related to the 1MDB corruption scandal.

“Belfort is significantly damaged by Red Granite’s tainting of his book/story rights, coupled with Red Granite’s inability and/or refusal to exploit and maximise the rights acquired from Belfort as required by contract, due to the highly publicised scandal and amid the allegations of their direct involvement,” LA Times reported citing Belfort’s complaint,

Belfort claimed that the scandal prevented him from pursuing another movie deal based on a continuation of his life story as contained in a follow-up book titled Catching the Wolf of Wall Street.

The former stockbroker was convicted in 1999 of securities fraud, after leading a flamboyant life using the money earned from various stock manipulation schemes and pump-and-dump techniques.

He was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment in a plea deal that included him testifying against his former accomplices and employees.

Red Granite Pictures’ legal representative responded to the suit with derision.

“Jordan Belfort’s lawsuit is nothing more than a desperate and supremely ironic attempt to get out from under an agreement that for the first time in his life made him rich and famous through lawful and legitimate means,” the firm’s lawyers were quoted as saying.

Red Granite was among entities named in the US anti-kleptocracy action related to 1MDB and voluntarily surrendered US$57 million to the country’s Justice Department in a settlement deal.

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