Lawyers for Red Granite Pictures, the Malaysian company that financed The Wolf of Wall Street, have threatened to sue a British journalist for suggesting government corruption may have been involved in the financing of the film, the Hollywood Reporter said Monday.
Red Granite Pictures is headed by Riza Aziz, stepson of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
The journalist, Clare Rewcastle Brown, wrote on Sarawak Report blog “that Red Granite Picture’s resources and Aziz’s personal wealth may have come — at least in part — via illicit means,” the Hollywood Reporter said.
Brown, a sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, grew up in Malaysia and has become a fierce critic of the government there.
“She also alleged that Aziz’s mother, Malaysia’s first lady, has been actively promoting the film in the Muslim-majority country, despite its R-rating and portrayals of sex, drugs and debauchery,” the Hollywood Reporter said.
Lawyers for Red Granite Pictures, Loeb & Loeb LLP, demanded in a written notice that Brown retract her story and “compel other outlets that picked up the story to pull their versions as well, or else face litigation.”
Brown shared the notice with BuzzFeed. The notice accused Brown of “numerous false, misleading, defamatory, and malicious statements concerning RGP made in the article.”
Brown has been banned from entering Malaysia since July 2013 because of her reporting, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Loeb & Loeb said Brown’s article is an “irresponsible, shoddy, malicious screed that was clearly concocted by a writer or writers (and/or editor or editors) intent on pressing a transparent, political agenda.”
She said: “We would be delighted if [Riza Aziz] could publicly account for his sources of income and tell us how he got so apparently wealthy or who his wealthy backers are.”
“The article has had a wide impact in the Malaysian media, with some outlets now calling on Prime Minister Razak to clarify the origins of his stepson’s wealth and financial involvement in Red Granite Pictures,” the Hollywood Reporter said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.