“The Wolf of Wall Street” producer Joey McFarland has agreed to surrender to the government millions of dollars in gifts and company funding allegedly given by Low Taek Jho, in the wake of a money laundering scandal involving his movie production company Red Granite Pictures.
Among the haul of treasures is a vintage French “King Kong” poster, a Jean-Michel Basquiat art piece and several luxury watches, collectively worth US$14 million (RM57.5 million), according to a Bloomberg report.
The gifts were supposedly bought with money siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and given by Low – better known as Jho Low – who has been identified by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a central figure behind the alleged theft of US$4.5 billion (RM18.5 billion) from the state fund.
In an exclusive, entertainment news site Page Six reported McFarland as claiming to have no knowledge that the gifts and funding given to his production company were financed by stolen money.
Red Granite Pictures plunged further into controversy this year after ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, who co-founded the company with McFarland, was arrested and slapped with five charges of money laundering after being accused of misappropriating US$248 million in 1MDB funds.
In 2018, the company, which produced “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, paid the US government US$60 million to settle a civil forfeiture claim over rights to the movie.
Citing the US forfeiture complaint, Bloomberg reported that Aziz spent at least US$5.4 million on collectible movie posters which he used to cover the walls of his New York condominium. “A number of them” were said to be given to McFarland, DiCaprio and the movie’s director Martin Scorsese.
His scandal-plagued stepfather is also facing charges for money laundering involving 1MDB, abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and the alleged embezzling of RM4.2 million in funds belonging to investment company SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former unit of 1MDB.
According to Malay Mail, Najib was questioned by the Malaysian High Court on Monday (July 15) regarding a suspicious RM3.3 million one-day spending spree he had at Swiss luxury jeweller De Grisogono in Italy back in 2014, which he claimed was to buy gifts for “royalty”.