Leonardo DiCaprio says he will cooperate with federal authorities to return any contributions to his foundation that may have been embezzled from a Malaysian development fund.
The statement is DiCaprio’s first comment on the sprawling, multi-billion dollar corruption case surrounding 1 Malaysia Development Berhad. In July, federal prosecutors filed a complaint to seize more than $1 billion allegedly looted from the sovereign wealth fund.
DiCaprio has ties to two key figures in the case: Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister, and Jho Low, a Malaysian financier. The feds allege that the pair used stolen funds to buy luxury real estate, fine art, and to gamble at casinos. They also allege that Aziz, through his company Red Granite Pictures, used $74 million in illicit funds to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which DiCaprio starred. Red Granite has said that it did not knowingly take looted money.
DiCaprio has not been accused of wrongdoing, but he has come under pressure to disclose whether the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation received illicit contributions from Low or other sources. In Tuesday’s statement, DiCaprio’s spokesman said that he reached out to authorities to determine whether any money should be returned.
“He immediately had his representatives reach out to the Department of Justice to determine whether he or his foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), ever received any gifts or charitable donations directly or indirectly related to these parties, and if so, to return those gifts or donations as soon as possible,” the spokesman said. “All contact was initiated by Mr. DiCaprio and LDF.”
“Both Mr. DiCaprio and LDF continue to be entirely supportive of all efforts to assure that justice is done in this matter. Mr. DiCaprio is grateful for the lead and instruction of the government on how to accomplish this,” the spokesman said.
DiCaprio was not named in the forfeiture action, though he was referred to as “Hollywood Actor 1.” The complaint notes that DiCaprio thanked Low and Aziz in his speech accepting the Golden Globe for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and alleges that DiCaprio gambled with Aziz and others in Las Vegas in 2012.