Leonardo DiCaprio comes under heavy fire, urged to repay ‘dirty money’ to Malaysians

© Coconuts Media
Being a Hollywood A-lister, Leonardo DiCaprio is used to being in the spotlight, but we bet he’s pretty uncomfortable being in this one.The 41-year-old actor is currently in the center of a worldwide embezzlement case involving flamboyant Malaysian businessman Jho Low and the troubled wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).According to a report by US entertainment site The Hollywood Reporter, DiCaprio’s charity foundation, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), is currently being investigated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) after claims that certain donations to the Foundation came directly from billions of dollars allegedly siphoned off 1MDB.

In the civil suit filed by the DoJ in July, Jho Low — the actor’s close friend and clubbing buddy — allegedly bought several bottles of marked-up champagne at one of DiCaprio’s fundraisers in 2013 using money which reportedly came from the wealth fund.

Low also allegedly spent USD1.1 million (RM4.4 million) of diverted 1MDB money to buy two artworks by Ed Ruscha and Mark Ryden at a LDF-funding auction.

The papers also claimed that Low donated a USD700,000 (RM2.8 million) Lichtenstein sculpture to the LDF for another auction.

That’s not the end of DiCaprio’s connection with the troubled fund, though.

Some of the USD3 billion (RM12 billion) allegedly siphoned from 1MDB reportedly made its way into the bank account of Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and one of the key figures named in DoJ’s civil suit.

Riza then reportedly used the money to set up Red Granite Pictures, the production company that bankrolled the Oscar-winner’s 2013 film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

Ironically, Red Granite’s office is located on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood – just above DiCaprio’s own.

DiCaprio’s alleged ties to the scandal – dubbed by DoJ as the world’s largest embezzlement case – have undoubtedly casted the actor in a bad light.

Last week, DiCaprio reportedly backed out of hosting a USD33,400 (RM136,000)-per-guest fundraiser for US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the very last minute, citing a scheduling conflict.

According to a report by entertainment site Page Six, some of the guests who attended the fundraiser speculated that his sudden withdrawal was to spare Clinton from any embarrassment due to the embezzlement case.

Earlier this week, the Bruno Manser Fund — a rainforest fund that has been working actively to protect the rainforests of Sarawak — penned an open letter to the actor, urging him to “give the dirty money back”.

In the letter, the organisation alleged that DiCaprio was paid as much as USD25 million (RM100 million) for his role in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ – money the organisation believed to have come from 1MDB.

The organisation also claimed that LDF received several million dollars in donations.

“We are deeply disturbed that Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation accepted assets that originate from the proceeds of corruption in Malaysia.

“This is a disgrace and in total contradiction with the declared aims of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation,” Lukas Straumann, Director of the Bruno Manser Fund, was quoted as saying in the letter.

Straumann added that as a designated UN Messenger of Peace, DiCaprio has a responsibility to stop corruption.

“We call on DiCaprio to apologise and pay back all this dirty money to the Malaysian people,” he was further quoted as saying.

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