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Riza Aziz says he is 'innocent owner' of 1MDB-linked properties.

The Edge logoThe Edge 17/2/2017 Adam Aziz
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 17): Riza Aziz claimed that he is an "innocent owner" of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-linked properties across the US and UK as he had no involvement or knowledge on 1MDB transactions, The Hollywood Reporter reported today, quoting US court papers Riza filed.

Riza, who is Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's stepson, is also the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, which financed The Wolf of Wall Street movie.

"The alleged beneficial owner of the claimant (and therefore the defendant property), Riza Aziz, is neither alleged to have participated in any transactions involving 1MDB nor even to have knowledge of any transactions involving 1MDB — let alone knowledge of any supposed misappropriation," the court papers showed.

The Hollywood Reporter indicated that Riza had in the past week filed the court papers to halt the US Government's attempt to seize the 1MDB-linked real estate assets across Beverly Hills, New York and London.

In July last year, the US Department of Justice said it filed civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion (about RM4.46 billion) in assets, which were alleged to be linked to 1MDB funds.

"These assets allegedly included high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York and Los Angeles, a US$35 million jet aircraft, works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, an interest in the music publishing rights of EMI Music and the production of the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Today, The Hollywood Reporter indicated that Riza's lawyer Matthew Schwartz was demanding a dismissal, claiming that the US Government failed to include "essential detail" about the supposed crimes.

"According to the Government, high-level officials in Malaysia diverted assets into a fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and then into shell companies with the assistance of big banks, including Goldman Sachs. Some of the money, it's asserted, went into Red Granite productions, and now the Government is looking to claw proceeds.

"Later this month, Red Granite is due to file its response to the Government's attempt to seize rights to Wolf of Wall Street, and in advance of this, Aziz's lawyers have foreshadowed the line of attack in motions to dismiss separate complaints filed over real estate property in Beverly Hills, New York and London," The Hollywood Reporter reported.

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