Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Riza Aziz claims film production loan from Saudi royals, not 1MDB funds

He says he turned to individuals and companies for a loan as it was difficult for an unknown film producer to obtain help from banks.

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Hollywood film producer Riza Aziz and his two companies claim to have obtained a loan from the Saudi royal family or the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and not from 1MDB funds to produce several films in the US.

IPIC is a company founded in Abu Dhabi whose managing director at the time was Khadem Abdullah Al-Qubaisi, who was a former aide to Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and also a member of the royal family.

The matter was stated in the defence statement filed by Riza, Red Granite Pictures Incorporated and Red Granite Capital Limited, as defendants, through Messrs Scivetti & Associates on Oct 25.

Based on the defence statement, Riza claimed that it was difficult for an unknown film producer to obtain loans from banks, which was why he decided to obtain loans from individuals or companies.

Riza also claimed that he was then introduced to Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Majed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Prince Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud from the Saudi royal family, who showed interest in lending him money for the purpose of film production by Red Granite Pictures Incorporated.

“I was informed that representatives of the Saudi royal family had agreed to provide the loan.

“The loan would be disbursed by a company known as Alsen Chance Holdings Limited, which is a company beneficially owned by the Saudi Arabian royal family. In this regard, I entered a loan agreement with Alsen Chance,” he said.

Riza claimed that after signing the agreement, he had received money amounting to US$1,173,104 and US$9,000,000 which was utilised to finance two companies, including the setting up and operating a production house, buying rights of scripts, books and producing films.

The stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak also claimed that he had discharged his obligation under the Alsen Chance loan agreement by Oct 31, 2021, whereby he had repaid Alsen Chance in full, together with interest.

“At that time, Alsen Chance has no nexus or connection with the plaintiffs (1MDB, 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited, 1MDB Energy Limited and 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited) and as such, there was no reason for the defendants to suspect the source of the funds,” said Riza.

On the transfer of US$238 million to Red Granite Capital, Riza claimed that the money was used to finance the business of the two companies, including the operational cost of a production house, buying rights of scripts, books and producing films.

Lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh, representing Riza and his two companies as the defendants, when contacted by reporters, said that during the case management before High Court deputy registrar Syeela Marlina Uttaman, the court had set Dec 6 for further case management.

He said that all the defendants had filed statements of defence.

1MDB and its three subsidiaries, namely 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited, 1MDB Energy Limited and 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited as the plaintiffs, filed the writ of summons on May 7 through Messrs Shearn Delamore & Co, naming Riza and two of his companies, Red Granite Pictures Incorporated and Red Granite Capital Limited, as the first, second and third defendants respectively.

The companies also named New York-based law firm, Shearman and Sterling, as the fourth defendant.

The companies, in their writ of summons, said that in 2011 and 2012, Riza and his two companies received approximately US$250 million in funds from 1MDB and its three subsidiaries, which was allegedly misappropriated for their personal benefit and for the benefit of their associates, including for financing movie productions and purchasing various real estate.

The companies claimed that Riza, who controlled the two Red Granite companies, ought to have known that the money that originated from 1MDB was misappropriated to them for their benefit.

The plaintiffs sought a declaration that Riza was liable to account for the misappropriated funds and unjust use of the funds, as well as the repayment of the misappropriated funds.

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