You gotta love authenticity in art! The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil suit on Wednesday against the makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, alleging that much of the money used to fund the film was stolen from the Malaysian people. The federal government is now attempting to seize, among many other assets in the wide-ranging, $3.5 billion money-laundering scheme, the rights to future profits from the 2013 film, itself about financial misdoings. The case centers around 1Malaysia Development Berhad, an investment fund started by the Malaysian government to invest worldwide, with the profits benefiting the Malaysian people. That was the idea, anyways. What happened instead, according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, is that corrupt financiers “treated this public trust as a personal bank account.”
Suspicions of The Wolf of Wall Street’s involvement in the scandal arose because a significant amount of its $100 million-plus budget came from a production company called Red Granite Pictures, which was not a known player in the industry. It’s now thought by the government that $64 million of that budget came from 1MDB funds, though Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell says, “The Malaysian people never saw a penny of profit of that film.” In addition to the rights to The Wolf of Wall Street, the government is also trying to seize some valuable artwork and real estate enmeshed in the scheme. This is just the latest legal complication to hit the film, which is also facing a defamation suit from former Stratton Oakmont executive Andrew Greene. Wolf of Wall Street cinematic universe, here we come.