As the fall-out continues from our previous expose into Najib’s step-son’s foray into the movie industry, along with a house buying spree in the United States, friends of Riza Aziz are rushing to his support.
However, their comments so far are likely only to make things worse for the unaccountably wealthy young man.
The Malaysia Gazette, for example, has quoted ‘a close friend of Riza Aziz in the United States’ saying that the Malaysian’s venture into the movie business has “managed to break the monopoly of the Jews in the world of film in Hollywood”!
“In fact , he said, Riza’s involvement has also managed to break the monopoly of the Jews in the world of film in Hollywood . On the basis of these developments, says a close friend , it is possible Riza will be the first Malaysian to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the prestigious Oscars. Who knows, one day Riza could pave the way for film directors in the country for directing films in Hollywood, as well as encouraging local actors making a name in there .” [Malaysia Gazette]
Such comments might go down well with a certain class of right wing Muslim extremists, who are currently trying to grasp control of the ruling BN coalition.
However, they will go down like a proverbial lead balloon in Hollywood itself, as well as in the rest of the US, Europe and indeed any of those free countries, where it can be observed that well-connected Malaysians like to invest their money.
As Sarawak Report revealed last week, Riza Aziz’s Red Granite Pictures is already facing a legal suit from an established production company, Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA), allegedly for failing to give due payment and due credit for the current movie they are producing, which is a sequel to MPCA’s original hit, Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carey.
The allegations brought before the court will have done nothing to enhance the image of the youthful Malaysian as a serious player in the movie business, portraying him rather as a party-boy with inexplicably deep pockets.
“McFarland and [Aziz] lack the experience necessary to successfully produce motion pictures themselves. Although Red Granite apparently has family money from [Aziz], Red Granite will not succeed with money alone because McFarland and [Aziz]‘s experience producing motion pictures during their short tenure in the industry consists of cavorting at nightclubs with Paris Hilton and making dinner reservations at posh nightclubs in New York and Los Angeles.” [Legal deposition against Red Granite Pictures]
Arrogance and alleged prejudice against Jewish people is not something that a serious producer would like seen added to this invidious list of accusations.
Fully financing the movie
Meanwhile, the coverage continues that Riza Aziz’s own company is ‘fully financing’ the cost of the newly released Leonardo di Caprio movie, Wolf On Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorcese:
Much has been made in Malaysia over past days of the young man’s purchase of a $33 million dollar home in Manhattan. However, this is dwarfed by the budget for Wolf On Wall Street, which topped $100 million according to the reports:
Martin Scorsese’s sex-laced The Wolf of Wall Street came in No. 4 with $6.6 million for a two-day total of $15.8 million. Fully financed for $100 million by Red Granite Pictures [Hollywood Reporter]
Aziz himself has further spoken of the tens of millions more he is planning to plunge into a series of further movies each year, from funds that are yet “undisclosed”:
Aziz: We’d like to make three to five films a year, with one tentpole and two or three films with more modest budgets in the $20 million to $40 million range.
THR: How much money are you backed by?
McFarland: We do not talk about that.
Aziz: I will say that I have money invested in the company. It shows that I have skin in the game and am committed from a financial point of view. We also have a group of investors, mainly from the Middle East and Asia.
THR: What does your father think of your new venture?
Aziz: I have leeway, but he likes to know that the projects we do have pedigree.[Hollywood Reporter]
Riza’s money – the unconvincing explanations from friends
Again Riza’s friends have been publicly jumping into the fray to explain all this money in the possession of Rosmah’s son. But again, none of their comments are likely to be very helpful.
Society photographer Kee Hua Chee blogged some time back why he found it perfectly explicable how Riza Aziz raised the money to buy his US house and finance movies:
“Riza is an investment banker who worked in London for the last 10 years and accumulated a vast fortune there by investing in houses and properties and the stock market. A million ringgit house ( a mere L 200,000) bought 10 years ago can now be worth a million pounds (RM 5 million) and if you had bought 10 such houses, you could have made a profit of RM 40 million” [[email protected]]
Yet, in fact, little of this adds up. If it was so easy for any bright chap in the UK with a so-so education and so-so banking career from 2002-2008 to make hundreds of millions of dollars in a few years from investing in “10 houses”, then Hollywood would be swarming with the likes of Riza Aziz, all attempting to wash their money through risky movies.
In fact Mr Aziz stands out as a very rare phenomenon, who is drawing considerable comment over the extravagant depth of his pockets at a time of world recession. He funded the “hottest party in years” at Cannes in penny pinching 2010 for example.
The truth is that no one can expect to make huge money in a limited period of time on the London property market, without having rather a lot to invest in the first place. Yet, this explanation for Rosmah Mansor’s son’s wealth persists amongst his ‘friends’, including those quoted in the Malaysian Gazette, this time referring to New York rather than London:
“Riza and his colleagues have the ability to purchase real estate. They do business there. In New York, the real estate that you buy today will shoot up the price the next day, ” he said [Malay Gazette]
All such remarks achieve is to raise the incredulity of on-lookers and increase the demands on the Malaysian Anti-corruption authorities to take a look at the cases of unexplained wealth amongst so many of Malaysia’s politically connected persons.
This is a duty which is already legally incumbent on banks who handle any such wealth or transactions.
The reluctance of Malaysia’s MACC to take responsibility over such matters compares poorly with Turkey, for example, where 3 ministers have just been forced to resign in relation to the arrests of their sons over allegations of cash bribes linked to their father’s political influence.
If the authorities can investigate such matters in Turkey why not in Malaysia too, where so far the MACC has claimed it is not entitled to examine the unexplained wealth of politically exposed persons, like Riza Aziz?
Meanwhile, the fun-loving Malaysian’s choice of movie production is starting to spark an increasing level of negative comment in the US, with its failure to get to the very top of the Christmas ratings, despite its big name star, being attributed to the indecent content putting of a sizeable section of the market.
Reports in the US have noted the unsuitability of choosing Christmas Day for the launch of a film with such a lurid content:
Mr Najib’s step-son may have impressed, if rather bewildered Hollywood by his evident and extraordinary wealth, but nothing beats good sense and experience when it comes to doing business.
Riza Aziz should not be surprised if doors start to close in his face after such a series of misjudgements and mishaps and, of course, such ‘helpful’ remarks from friends.