Last week in California the Prime Minister’s step-son, Riza Aziz, filed a notice to dismiss the US Department of Justice’s seizure of his properties on the grounds that he was the “innocent owner” and could not be held responsible for the fact the money was stolen from 1MDB.
Those properties include a Beverly Hills mansion, the film production company Red Granite’s future earnings from Wolf of Wall Street, a London Belgravia town house and a New York penthouse.
What this defence contends is that Riza had simply no idea that the hundreds of millions that suddenly started coming his way was not stolen, but thought it was a gift. For this reason he reckons he should be allowed to hang on to all the items bought with Malaysia’s stolen development money (money which the Malaysian tax payer is now faced with paying back to the original lenders at high interest rates).
Yet Sarawak Report has established new evidence that Riza was in from the very start on the 1MDB heist, in that he was invited to attend the meeting where the first ‘joint venture’ was cooked up between Jho Low, the Prime Minister and company PetroSaudi on the super-yacht Tatoosh in August 2009.
A trip manifest reveals that the jaunt, which took place between 15-20th August, was organised by a “high-end boutique concierge company” named Baroque, of which Jho Low was a member. According to the note made by the representative for Baroque, Sahle Ghebreyesus, the trip was in fact commissioned by his client Jho Low (whom he describes on the manifest as “my guy”). In March the following year Tarek Obaid also joined Baroque, which is an agency designed to pamper the super-rich:
Photographs later obtained by Sarawak Report show the main players behind the theft of the first billion from 1MDB through the PetroSaudi ‘joint venture’, which was strategised during this super-yacht meeting.
However, we can now confirm that Riza Aziz also joined the party, along with Najib’s key financial cronies Bustari Yusof and Robin Tan. Robin Tan is the son of Vincent Tan, long associated with BN political funding, and Bustari is the Sarawak PPB party treasurer cum billionaire, who was handed the ‘turnkey contract’ for the Pan Borneo Highway project and whose brother Fadillah has now been appointed Minister for Public Works.
This gives the Bustari brothers control over all the big contracts handed out by the Government, in Malaysia’s notoriously corrupted procurement process and Bustari has rarely strayed from Najib’s side in recent months.
Did Riza have simply no idea what was going on as these guys did the business which was soon to send money streaming his way?
It was just a few short months later that he went on to launch his production company Red Granite Pictures at the most lavish launch party ever seen at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.
And over the next two years Jho Low was at Riza’s side at every major film event involving Red Granite Pictures, including Wolf of Wall Street, which was funded by yet more money stolen from 1MDB, thanks to the later ‘Power Purchase Loan’ manoeuvres also organised by Jho Low.
According to the New York Times, Low was furthermore directly involved in the purchase of both of Riza’s US properties in Hollywood and New York. Did Riza simply fail to realise what was going on?
There can only be two conclusions. Either Riza is lying and he did know or Riza is a sad and stupid creature, who was merely used as a front and proxy by the players behind the scandal, which included his friend Jho Low and step-dad Najib.
He is therefore EITHER innocent OR the owner. He cannot be the “innocent owner”!
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