‘Wolf of Wall Street’ producer returning $14M over Malaysian money scandal
A Hollywood producer caught up in “The Wolf of Wall Street” Malaysian money scandal is returning millions of dollars and a haul of lavish gifts, Page Six has learned.
Joey McFarland will give back nearly $14 million in company profits and gifts, including a Basquiat painting, vintage movie posters and two Rolex watches, to the government. McFarland headed up production at Red Granite, the company that funded the movie hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The business was set up by Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. But McFarland — who we can reveal left the company late last year — was drawn into an international scandal when it was alleged that cash to fund the 2013 film had been siphoned from the Malaysian multibillion dollar state fund 1MDB.
In a court filing made Monday, seen by Page Six, McFarland’s attorneys stress he had no knowledge that any funding or gifts were financed by money that was stolen.
Earlier this month, Aziz was arrested in Malaysia on suspicion of money laundering and using 1MDB funds for Red Granite’s films. He denies any wrongdoing, while his stepfather and mother were also charged with corruption.
Aziz continues to fight for his share of the company’s cash and filed paperwork on Monday to continue contesting the issue.
Red Granite has paid the US government $60 million to settle claims it benefited from the 1MDB scandal, which is said to have been masterminded by Azis’s pal, mysterious Malaysian businessman Jho Low.
Court papers filed by McFarland’s attorneys state: “Claimant represents that, at the time he received each of the Subject Properties from Aziz, Low, and/or Tan [an alleged associate of Low], he was unaware of the fact that each of the Subject Properties may have been purchased with funds diverted from 1MDB… Claimant voluntarily surrenders the Subject Properties to the United States, relinquishes any and all right, title and interest he may have in the Subject Properties, and agrees and consents to their forfeiture so that they may be returned, if appropriate, to the People of Malaysia.”
McFarland has also forfeited any funds from an initial investment into the production company, as the court papers also state that: “Nothing in this consent judgment is intended or should be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing by Claimant, nor should this consent judgment be admitted in any criminal proceeding against Claimant to prove any of the facts relied upon to establish reasonable cause for the seizure of the Defendant Funds or the commencement of this action. The allegations set forth in the Complaint are sufficient to establish a basis for forfeiture of the Defendant Funds.”
DiCaprio – who is in no way linked with any wrongdoing – has already voluntarily returned artwork he was gifted by Low, including a Picasso purchased for $3.28 million, a photograph by Diane Arbus purchased for $750,000 and a Basquiat collage purchased for $9,191,040.
The latter two works are alleged to have been given to the actor by Low.
As for the Picasso, it allegedly came from Eric Tan, an associate of Low, accompanied by a handwritten note that read, “Dear Leonardo DiCaprio, Happy belated Birthday! This gift is for you.”
The Oscar winner also voluntarily surrendered to the government an Oscar awarded to Marlon Brando.
McFarland’s haul includes one drawing entitled “Self-Portrait” by Basquiat, one artwork entitled “Bliss Bucket” by Ed Ruscha, 16 assorted movie posters purchased from Cinema Archives and vintage movie posters, one Panerai watch, two Rolex watches and one Audemars Piguet watch.
Meanwhile, Low, who’s been charged with fraud, is in hiding and his whereabouts are unknown. He has previously maintained his innocence.
Source: Read Full Article