Federal prosecutors on Thursday gave notice that they are suspending the civil corruption case involving Red Granite Pictures while they pursue criminal charges.
The government has alleged that several Red Granite films — including “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Daddy’s Home” — were financed with money stolen from 1MDB, a Malaysian development fund. U.S. prosecutors brought civil actions to seize the proceeds from those films, along with more than $1 billion worth of real estate, artworks, and other assets allegedly bought with stolen funds.
In a motion filed Thursday in federal court, prosecutors say they intend to put the civil cases on hold because the discovery process could jeopardize the criminal investigation.
“Such disclosures could result in the destruction of evidence, flight of potential subjects and targets, or the identification and intimidation of potential witnesses,” Special Agent Jill Enyart wrote in a declaration.
She added that the discovery process could also inhibit foreign governments from cooperating with the ongoing probe, and “jeopardize the safety of certain foreign law enforcement personnel.”
Red Granite recently consented to the appointmentof Douglas Hansen, a veteran entertainment executive, to serve as an independent fiduciary. Hansen was installed, at Red Granite’s expense, to oversee the finances of the company and help facilitate a settlement of the government’s civil case. Red Granite is preparing to release the film “Papillon.”
Prosecutors now say that while the case is on hold, they will give updates to the court every six months.
In its civil complaints, the government has portrayed financier Jho Low as the key figure in the scandal. Riza Aziz, the CEO of the company, is the stepson of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, and an associate of Low.
The 1MDB scandal has rocked Malaysian politics and launched legal action in at least 10 countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Australia. The scandal has prompted Miranda Kerr to return $8.1 million in diamonds allegedly given to her by Low. Leonardo DiCaprio also turned over artwork, including a Picasso and a Basquiat, as well as an Oscar statue that once belonged to Marlon Brando.