Actor DiCaprio to help in 1MDB probe

Money siphoned from state-owned investment fund 1MDB allegedly helped finance DiCaprio's hit film The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013).
Money siphoned from state-owned investment fund 1MDB allegedly helped finance DiCaprio's hit film The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013).

WASHINGTON • Leonardo DiCaprio is aiding the investigation into a Malaysian embezzlement scam involving his hit film about financial market fraud, The Wolf Of Wall Street.

He contacted the US Justice Department in July just after it filed a lawsuit to seize more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) in allegedly ill-gotten assets tied to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) state investment, including rights to the film, his spokesman said yesterday.

Allegations of a vast international scheme of embezzlement and money-laundering involving 1MDB money began to emerge two years ago.

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

Datuk Seri Najib launched the fund in 2009 and closely oversaw it. 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(2013).

The film was financed by Red Granite Pictures, co-founded by Mr Riza Aziz, Mr Najib's stepson. DiCaprio was reportedly friends with Mr Aziz's associate Mr 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, art by Monet and Van Gogh, and a Bombardier jet.

DiCaprio's representatives contacted the Justice Department to determine if he or his foundation "ever received any gifts or charitable donations related to these parties, and if so, to return those... as soon as possible."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Actor DiCaprio to help in 1MDB probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe