In a situation that seems inspired by Jordan Belfort himself, it is now alleged that the 2013 hit The Wolf of Wall Street was financed by dirty funding from Malaysia. After multiple studios turned down the chance to make the film out of concern such an abrasive and inappropriate movie wouldn’t do well at the box office, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo turned to a less traditional form of financing. That source, Red Granite Pictures, was until now assumed to be a new upstart in the film business with Middle Eastern money behind it and a penchant for big parties and gifts. Now, accusations that their financing is actually money that was diverted from a fund meant to stimulate the Malaysian economy could mean that the large majority of the money used to make the picture is tainted.
As The Wall Street Journal says in their extensive reporting on the rumors, things are looking sketchy:
The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, was set up seven years ago by the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. His stepson, Riza Aziz, is the chairman of Red Granite Pictures.
The 1MDB fund is now the focus of numerous investigations at home and abroad, which grew out of $11 billion of debt it ran up and questions raised in Malaysia about how some of its money was used.
Importantly, neither Leo nor Martin are directly implicated in the brouhaha over any potential fraud. Any money that was diverted was apparently done so prior to their involvement with Red Granite Pictures.
Investigators in two countries believe that $155 million originating with 1MDB moved into Red Granite in 2012 through a circuitous route involving offshore shell companies, said people familiar with the probes. This same money trail also is described by a person familiar with 1MDB’s dealings and supported by documents reviewed by the Journal.
It’s an unfortunate development for a film that was otherwise successful with both critics and audiences, at least for the most part. However, Red Granite Pictures continues to develop new projects amidst the accusations. Maybe now one of their upcoming films can be a Wolf sequel that centers on Malaysian government corruption.
(via The Wall Street Journal)