Belfort claimed that the scandal prevented him from pursuing another movie deal based on a continuation of his life story as contained in a follow-up book titled Catching the Wolf of Wall Street.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Belfort's legal action arises directly from the financial scandal surrounding Red Granite, the production company that put up the film's $100m budget but was subsequently linked to a multimillion-dollar embezzlement in which huge sums were siphoned from 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund. Riza Aziz, Red Granite's co-founder and stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, is now under arrest in Malaysia on money laundering charges.
Belfort filed his lawsuit in Los Angeles, California yesterday, naming Red Granite Pictures as the respondent.
Belfort - who served 22 months in prison after bilking investors out of a comparatively modest $200 million in the early 1990s - alleges that the 1MDB scandal has tainted the rights to his story.
According to the suit, Belfort believed Aziz when he said that Red Granite's money came from legitimate sources, including high-net worth individuals and Goldman Sachs.
"Belfort is greatly affected by Red Granite's impairment of its rights to books / narratives, combined with Red Granite's inability and / or refusal to use and maximize the rights acquired by Belfort under the terms of the contract, widespread scandals and allegations of significantly damaging their direct involvement, "the LA Times reported, citing the Belfort complaint".
He claimed that when he signed over the movie rights to Red Granite he did not know the company was funded "by ill-gotten gains".
"I met these guys, and stated to Anne (his fiancee)‚ 'These guys are f-ing criminals, '" Belfort stated within the interview. A few months after he sold the rights, he said the company threw a multi-million dollar launch party at Cannes. "I stated to Anne, 'It is a f-ing rip-off, anyone who does this has stolen cash.'..."
Red Granite was one of the organizations mentioned in the U.S. anti-kleptocracy campaign related to 1MDB and voluntarily donated $ 57 million to the country's Department of Justice through a settlement.
Red Granite's attorney, Matthew Schwartz of Boies Schiller Flexner, said on Thursday that Belfort's suit has no merit.
In the lawsuit, Belfort states Red Granite Productions co-founder Riza Aziz represented the company as a "legitimate and legally funded film production company".
In 2017, the federal government stated that Belfort has paid again exclusively $12.eight million of the $110 million he was ordered to return to buyers.