Is Leonardo DiCaprio going to return all of the money that his Foundation received from an alleged Malaysian embezzlement scheme? Well the American government through its officials is calling on the Oscar winning star of The Revenant to do so.
Leonardo is loved for his movies and by women around the world. He is a confirmed playboy who has dated some of the world’s most beautiful women. The only hint of scandal to ever come close to tarnishing Leonardo DiCaprio’s good boy image was the recent $3.5 billion fraud involving the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Malaysian businessman Jho Low.
So what can Leonardo, Leo to his friends, do to quell the growing scandal? What can he do to help his Foundation continue to work at preserving the environment?
Should Leonardo DiCaprio return at least part of the pilfered money, it would certainly help him to preserve his image as America’s most popular would-be son-in-law.
Now it should be remembered that absolutely no one has accused DiCaprio of taking part in any fraud himself. It is surmised that Leonardo was duped by Low, who is accused of having used the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the production of the Oscar nominated Martin Scorsese movie The Wolf of Wall Street to launder embezzled funds.
But Leo’s foundation is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is also calling on DiCaprio to have it return the donations which were part of the embezzled funds, according to England’s Daily Telegraph.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is an environmental organization which declares its mission to be the preservation of “the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants.” It hopes, through grant giving, to protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while “restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.”
It received donations to help preserve the Malaysian rainforest. DiCaprio has himself been question by authorities on the scandal.
Low allegedly embezzled the funds from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. $3.5 billion from the $8 billion fund were said to have been misappropriated in total between 2009 and 2015, the Telegraph reports.
So how was the money stolen, and can Leonardo was even return it? According to the allegations Jho Low used money from 1MDB to pay for $1.1 million in art at an auction held to raise funds for the DiCaprio Foundation. Low also allegedly overpaid for bottles of champagne at a Leonardo DiCaprio birthday party, which served as a fundraiser for his foundation.
Meanwhile, Lukas Straumann, Director of the Bruno Manser Fund, which is similar to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, issued an open letter calling on DiCaprio to refund the illicitly gained funds. The Hollywood Reporter quoted Straumann as saying:
“[The] money was stolen from the treasury and went straight into Leo’s pocket. That is dirty money, and he should pay it back.”
“We were appalled to see that a foundation that basically champions very similar causes to ours would accept corrupt funds. It really damages his credibility and the credibility of the foundation. If he wants to be a role model, a U.N. ambassador for peace and for climate change, then he should also be an example in how he handles his role.”
So how was Leonardo’s movie The Wolf of Wall Street involved? In the 2013 movie, DiCaprio portrayed the real life character Jordan Belfort, who was a hugely successful stock broker until the authorities caught up with him for securities fraud. Based on Belfort’s book, the film earned five Oscar nominations, including best actor for DiCaprio and best supporting actor for Jonah Hill.
Red Granite Pictures, which is owned by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister, funded the film’s production. Low is accused of using embezzled funds to bankroll Aziz’s company.
It is not clear how DiCaprio can be held responsible for this or if he needs to return any of the money that funded the movie. It is probably Red Granite Pictures which is in trouble here.
So the question now is what did Leonardo DiCaprio know and when did he know it with regard to Mr. Low’s illicit activities? And exactly how much money did his foundation receive from Low and will the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation return said money to whomever it was that got scammed?
While this scandal is not on the level of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, it is still unseemly. This is why many expect that Leonardo DiCaprio will return any ill gotten money, or at least make an effort to do so.
[Photo by Getty Images]