This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on May 18, 2020 - May 24, 2020
The producer of the Hollywood blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street, Riza Aziz, who is the son of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and stepson of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has made a deal with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to have his money-laundering charges dropped in exchange for the return of US$107 million (RM465.5 million) to Malaysia.
While it is common for prosecutors to agree to settlements with accused parties, this deal needs to be scrutinised.
First, why did the AGC settle for US$107 million when Riza — with the help of Low Taek Jho or Jho Low — was accused of stealing US$248 million from 1MDB? Are we giving him a 60% discount? Wouldn’t this encourage more people to steal since they are required to return only 40% of what they stole?
Second, as far as we know, Riza’s Red Granite Pictures had already agreed to pay US$60 million to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and this sum would be returned to Malaysia anyway, regardless of whether the AGC made a settlement with him. So, is the US$107 million on top of the US$60 million or does it include the US$60 million?
Lastly, why did the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Datuk Seri Azam Baki, in his statement, say that this settlement was agreed to by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas? Thomas has denied it and the facts back him up.
On April 2, Riza’s lawyer, Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh, told Bernama that the AGC had not responded to representation made on Nov 18 last year to review the charges against his client.
Thomas resigned on Feb 28, which means no decision was made before he quit.
So, who made the decision to settle with Riza? And why was it agreed upon to get back only 40% of what was stolen from Malaysian taxpayers?
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