Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has found himself in the middle of an investigation that reads like a Hollywood movie script.
The real life drama has resulted in DiCaprio being urged to pay back millions in embezzled funds used to bankroll his 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street” and fund his environmental charity, the Telegraph reported.
In what’s being called the world’s largest embezzlement case, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a Malaysian foundation and its ties to $3.5 billion that was “misappropriated” from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
According to a court filing by the DOJ last month, some of that money allegedly made its way to DiCaprio through his film and charity work. The actor is now facing calls to “give the dirty money back.” DiCaprio is named as “Hollywood Actor 1” in the 136-page complaint, the Telegraph reported.
Last week, the 41 year-old actor cancelled hosting a $33,400-per-guest fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at the last-minute due to production schedule changes. But speculation abounded on whether the move was meant to spare the Democratic presidential nominee any negative publicity due to the fallout from the investigation implicating DiCaprio.
Out of $8 billion raised by 1MDB, which is owned by the Malaysian government, $3.5 billion was “misappropriated” between 2009 and 2015, according to the Telegraph. At the center of the investigation, 35 year-old Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman and drinking buddy of DiCaprio’s, allegedly spent a third of that money by himself.
Low is accused of using the funds to buy bottles of champagne in 2013 at a Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation fundraiser for the actor’s birthday and for paying $1.1 million for art at an LDF-funding Christie’s auction.
The complaint also alleged that millions more were siphoned off to Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister. Aziz’s production company, Red Granite Pictures, bankrolled “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which DiCaprio earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a corrupt financier.
The Malaysian rainforest charity, the Bruno Manser Funds, sent an open letter to DiCaprio this week calling on the actor to return money he received from those connected to the 1MDB. As founder of his environmental charity and a designated UN Messenger of Peace, DiCaprio’s responsibility is to help stop corruption, the organization said.
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