Petaling Jaya — According to the US-based The Hollywood Reporter (THR), lawyers for Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Taek Low, otherwise known as Jho Low, are asking various distributors and platforms to remove the movie The Kleptocrats from their catalogues.
The film, a documentary about the 1MDB scandal, is of special interest to the US, especially to Hollywood itself, since the money used to fund the blockbuster hit “The Wolf of Wall Street” allegedly came from the scandal, which involves around US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion).
Mr Low is allegedly at the center of the scandal, along with several prominent figures in Malaysia, including the country’s former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is currently on trial.
Mr Najib faces multiple charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering involving RM42 million (S$13.9 million) from funds from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, and could go to jail for as long as 20 years, aside from being made to pay a sizable fine.
The Kleptocrats, which was first aired last November in New York City, traces the trajectory of the 1MDB scandal, shining a light on the involvement of Mr Low “from his arrival in the U.S. as a mysterious billionaire playboy flush with money, to his growing friendship with celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, and the formation of the production company Red Granite, behind 2013 hit The Wolf of Wall Street, which U.S. authorities assert was funded by millions stolen from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MBD.”
The documentary was directed by Havana Marking and Sam Hobkinson and was scheduled to have aired on the Starz network on Monday, August 5, and on the BBC later in the year. It features interviews with journalists from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter who wrote about the scandal as it unfolded.
According to THR, “London-based law firm Schillings has accused The Kleptocrats of defaming its clients in claiming he is the central figure in the scandal, alongside infringing copyright in its use of video footage and potentially prejudicing various ongoing legal proceedings.”
However, the team behind The Kleptocrats have said that the documentary was vetted by their lawyers both in the US and the UK and is covered by its indemnities. They added that the request from Mr Low’s lawyers is “simply an attempt at intimidation to silence the film” and that it is widely known that officials in the US, Malaysia, and Singapore consider Mr Low to be central to the 1MDB scandal.
Mike Lerner, the producer of The Kleptocrats said, “Knowing how passionately Schillings believe in the rule of law and justice I would be surprised if they were not willing to help law enforcement agencies in the United States, Singapore and Malaysia, in any way they can, to locate and bring to justice their client, the fugitive Jho Low, so he can answer for his alleged role in one of the largest financial frauds in history, a crime that has deeply affected the lives of so many ordinary Malaysians, struggling to maintain decent living conditions for their families in the face of shameless greed and naked corruption.”
Last year, Schillings also attempted to stop bookstores all over the world from selling Billion Dollar Whale, by Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope and Tom Wright. The book is about the involvement of Mr Low in the 1MDB scandal. / TISG