DiCaprio says he’s co­op­er­at­ing with DOJ in Malaysian scan­dal

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

LEONARDO DICAPRIO says he’s await­ing di­rec­tion from the US Jus­tice Depart­ment re­gard­ing any ill-got­ten funds that may have sup­ported his en­vi­ron­men­tal foun­da­tion or the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Os­car-win­ning ac­tor re­leased a state­ment through his rep­re­sen­ta­tives Tues­day say­ing he will re­turn any gifts or dona­tions con­nected to a Malaysian wealth fund, pend­ing a fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion of that fund by the US and other coun­tries. Court fil­ings in con­nec­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions al­lege a com­plex money-laun­der­ing scheme in­tended to en­rich top-level of­fi­cials of the Malaysian gov­ern­ment­con­trolled wealth fund.

“Both Mr DiCaprio and (the Leonardo DiCaprio Foun­da­tion) con­tinue to be en­tirely sup­port­ive of all ef­forts to as­sure that jus­tice is done in this mat­ter,” the state­ment said. “Mr DiCaprio is grate­ful for the lead and in­struc­tion of the gov­ern­ment on how to ac­com­plish this.”

The Jus­tice Depart­ment says that at least $3.5 bil­lion has been stolen from the wealth fund, known as 1MDB, by peo­ple close to Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak. Na­jib cre­ated the fund in 2009, shortly af­ter he took of­fice, to pro­mote eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects in the Asian na­tion, but the fund ac­cu­mu­lated bil­lions in debts over the years.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment has ini­ti­ated ac­tion to seize $1.3 bil­lion it says was taken from the fund to buy as­sets in the US, in­clud­ing lux­ury prop­er­ties in New York and Cal­i­for­nia, a $35-mil­lion jet, art by Vin­cent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and fi­nanc­ing of The Wolf of Wall Street, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral gov­ern­ment com­plaints filed in Los An­ge­les in July.

NOT NAMED

The gov­ern­ment com­plaints also say that more than $700 mil­lion has landed in the ac­counts of ‘Malaysian of­fi­cial 1’. They didn’t name the of­fi­cial, but ap­pear to be re­fer­ring to Na­jib.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment com­plaints also do not men­tion DiCaprio by name, but make an oblique ref­er­ence to ‘Hol­ly­wood Ac­tor 1’, who, dur­ing his Golden Globe ac­cep­tance speech thanked, “the en­tire pro­duc­tion team” and sin­gled out sev­eral peo­ple close to Na­jib im­pli­cated in the scan­dal as “col­lab­o­ra­tors” on the film. DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for his Wolf of Wall Street per­for­mance.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment com­plaints iden­tify the col­lab­o­ra­tors by name, in­clud­ing Na­jib’s step­son, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, who co­founded movie pro­duc­tion com­pany Red Gran­ite Pic­tures. Be­sides The Wolf of Wall Street, other films pro­duced by Red Gran­ite in­clude 2015’s Daddy’s Home and 2014’s Dumb and Dumber To.

Last week, a Swiss rain­for­est char­ity de­manded that DiCaprio re­sign from his post as a United Na­tions ‘Mes­sen­ger of Peace’ if he doesn’t dis­close his fi­nan­cial ties to the Malaysian fund. But on Mon­day, a UN spokesman ex­pressed con­tin­ued sup­port for the ac­tor.

Stephane Du­jar­ric said he un­der­stands that DiCaprio’s foun­da­tion is work­ing with the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties in the US to re­solve the is­sue. A sub­ur­ban cou­ple gets to know more about their new neigh­bours in ‘Keep­ing Up with the Jone­ses’.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Si­mon Keenly­side in the ti­tle role of Mozart’s ‘Don Gio­vanni’.

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