DiCaprio reaches out to jus­tice dept in 1MDB probe

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

LEONARDO DiCaprio is aid­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an al­leged Malaysian em­bez­zle­ment scam that in­volved his hit film about fi­nan­cial mar­ket fraud The Wolf of Wall Street, ac­cord­ing to his spokesper­son.

The Hol­ly­wood star con­tacted the US Jus­tice De­part­ment in July just af­ter it filed a law­suit to seize more than US$1 bil­lion in al­legedly ill-got­ten as­sets tied to Malaysian state in­vest­ment fund 1MDB, in­clud­ing rights to the film, Mr DiCaprio’s spokesper­son said.

Al­le­ga­tions of a vast in­ter­na­tional scheme of em­bez­zle­ment and money-laun­der­ing in­volv­ing bil­lions of dol­lars of 1MDB fund­ing be­gan to come to light about two years ago, rock­ing Malaysia’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment.

In a July law­suit, the US Jus­tice De­part­ment de­tailed how “Malaysian Of­fi­cial 1” – later iden­ti­fied by of­fi­cials as Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak – fam­ily mem­bers, and close as­so­ci­ates di­verted bil­lions from the now-stricken fund.

Mr Na­jib launched the fund, 1Malaysia Devel­op­ment Ber­had, in 2009 and closely over­saw it.

Both he and 1MDB deny any wrong­do­ing.

The money al­legedly si­phoned from 1MDB was used to buy hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars worth of as­sets around the world, and al­legedly fi­nanced the pro­duc­tion of The Wolf of Wall Street.

Mr DiCaprio’s 2013 film about Wall Street cor­rup­tion and greed was fi­nanced by Red Gran­ite Pic­tures, co-founded by Riza Aziz, step­son of the Malaysian prime min­is­ter. Mr DiCaprio re­port­edly was friends with Aziz as­so­ci­ate Jho Low, also named in the law­suit.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment wants to seize roy­al­ties from the film, as well as real es­tate in Beverly Hills, New York and London, art­works by Monet and Van Gogh, and a Bombardier jet.

A Leonardo DiCaprio Foun­da­tion spokesper­son said that af­ter hear­ing about the law­suit, Mr DiCaprio had his rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­tact the Jus­tice De­part­ment “to de­ter­mine whether he or his foun­da­tion ... ever re­ceived any gifts or char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions di­rectly or in­di­rectly re­lated to these par­ties and, if so, to re­turn them as soon as pos­si­ble”.

The move to seize the funds, sub­ject to lengthy le­gal pro­ceed­ings, emerges from a 2010 Jus­tice De­part­ment anti-klep­toc­racy ini­tia­tive in­tended to con­fis­cate the ill-got­ten gains of world lead­ers which pass through the US bank­ing sys­tem.

The Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO cam­paign­ing against cor­rup­tion in Malaysia, said it wel­comed Mr DiCaprio’s an­nounce­ment but called on the Hol­ly­wood star to fully dis­close all of his fi­nan­cial ties to Mr Low, Mr Aziz and Red Gran­ite Pic­tures.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion also ques­tioned whether Mr DiCaprio would pay back the es­ti­mated $25 mil­lion he re­ceived for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street.

“While we ap­pre­ci­ate the state­ment and his co­op­er­a­tion with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, there is clearly more DiCaprio could do to end this dis­grace­ful chap­ter in Hol­ly­wood his­tory,” a state­ment from the NGO said. –

Photo: AFP

Leonardo DiCaprio was the star of a movie funded by 1MDB.

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