The real ‘Wolf of Wallstreet’ has filed a RM1.2 billion (US$300 million) fraud lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Red Granite Pictures and its co-founder Riza Aziz.
Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort has sued Riza in the US for allegedly deceiving him about the source of funds used to finance the Wolf of Wall Street.
Belfort, who was the inspiration behind the 2013 hit film, said Red Granite lied to him when he first agreed to sell them his rights.
Belfort was reported as stating in in his claim that Riza, who is also former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson, had represented the company as a “legitimate and legally funded film production company.”
Belfort explained that he was informed that Red Granite was financed by legitimate high-net-worth individuals and companies, including Goldman Sachs but he eventually learned that was not the case.
Belfort is suing for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (Rico) Act, breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
It was reported that Belfort said he and others have suffered as a result of allegations that the film’s funds came from money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB in Malaysia.
“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 film 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 paid US$60 million to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in March 2018 to settle claims it produced three films using funds siphoned off 1MDB.
Meanwhile, Riza is facing corruption charges in Malaysia for allegedly embezzling US$248 million (RM1 billion) from 1MDB.