If Red Granite Pictures and the federal government thought they’d get a rubber stamp from a federal judge in their mutual desire to bring a third party to help run the company during the ongoing investigation, District Judge Dale Fisher took the celebratory fireworks out of their Fourth of July.
“The United States and Claimant Red Granite Pictures, Inc. have filed stipulations in these (sic) case regarding appointment of an ‘operational fiduciary,’ ” said Fisher in an order (read it here).yesterday. “Along with the stipulations, the parties filed proposed orders for the Court’s signature,” she added of the adversaries in the probe into Malaysian government funds being moved through The Wolf Of Wall Street financier. “Those proposed orders merely state that ‘Pursuant to the stipulation and request of the parties, and good cause appearing therefor, the attached stipulation is so ordered.’ ”
Then Fisher bloodlessly dashed Red Granite and the Department of Justice’s desires.
“This makes no sense,” she stated yesterday about the request of the day before. “The Court does not ‘order’ a stipulation. It is unclear what the parties want the Court to order or what the purported effect of that order would be. Therefore, the requests are denied.” Ouch!
Besides the fact Fisher clearly has a second career as an agency partner for her ability to shiv, Red Granite and the feds clearly thought this would be a done deal.
“It is not the intention of the United States in joining this application to prevent any third parties, including but not limited to financial institutions, motion picture studios or distributors, or trade vendors, from doing business with Red Granite, or to otherwise interfere with Red Granite’s ordinary business operations,” said an apparently confident Red Granite attorney Matthew Schwartz of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in a filing of June 28 seeking the order. “In fact the present hope and intention of the United States that the appointment of this independent operational fiduciary will facilitate and support Red Granite’s ongoing business operations,” he adds to what was ultimately no avail.
Since early last year, after allegations on the international front, an extensive federal investigation has been underway as to whether the crime of money laundering applies to the money moves made by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and others, with the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section leading the case. Specifically, the investigation has looked at where funds from the Razak-controlled 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, known as 1MDB, went and to what purpose.
Red Granite has been in the spotlight as a possible stop on the money trail, as its co-founder Riza Aziz is Razak’s stepson and because where the company’s substantial cash came from has never been completely explained.
Add to that Low Taek Jho (also known as Jho Lo), a friend of Aziz and his family and who received a “special thanks” in the Wolf Of Wall Street credits, was cited in an investigation in Malaysia in 2015 over such political slush funds.
Red Granite first pushed back against reports by Deadline and others of such a U.S. investigation, but has now long said it is cooperating with the feds – who earlier this month sought to seize all rights to Red Granite films Dumb And Dumber To and Daddy’s Home plus real estate, artwork and more.
This isn’t the first time the 2013-launched Red Granite has been accused of dabbling in financial dark arts. In 2014, fighting a legal battle with producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy over the Dumber and Dumber sequel, Red Granite was accused by blogger Clare Rewcastle Brown — the sister-in-law of former UK PM Gordon Brown — of paying for its pics partially through “illicit funds emanating from the Malaysian government.”
Like it did with Stabler and Krevoy’s allegations that included RICO Act violations and charges the company was “funded with monies that include proceeds from unlawful activities,” Red Granite shot back with cease and desist letters and counterclaims. In the end the company took no legal action against Brown and, after nearly a year, reached a confidential settlement with Stabler and Krevoy, just before a pivotal court date.
No settlement with Fisher this week, fellas.