KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) on Sunday denied reports that it had provided funds to finance the 2013 Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that global investigators believe much of the funds used to make the film were diverted from 1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Journal quoted unnamed sources who it said were familiar with the work of the investigators.
According to the WSJ, the funds were diverted to a small production company called Red Granite Pictures, which came up with the more than $100 million needed to finance the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.
1MDB said in a statement it had never invested in nor transferred funds to Red Granite Pictures, whether directly or via intermediaries.
“We, therefore, deny any suggestion that 1MDB funded the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, or had any involvement with the film in any capacity, as has been alleged or implied in some recent media reports,” 1MDB said.
The Red Granite Pictures website names Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, as the company co-founder and co-chairman.
Investigators in two countries believe that some $155 million, originating from 1MDB, moved into Red Granite in 2012 through various offshore shell companies, the WSJ said, citing sources familiar with the probes.
Najib has been buffeted by allegations of graft and mismanagement at 1MDB, and the revelation that $681 million was deposited in his bank account.
He has denied any wrongdoing, maintains that he did not use the funds for personal gain and was cleared this year of any criminal offense by Malaysia’s Attorney General.
Investigations into 1MDB’s finances are underway in Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Praveen Menon and Richard Pullin