I can picture it now. A panicked Leonardo DiCaprio runs down into the lower deck of the S.S. Snatch Catcher and throws his Oscar at his forever life intern Lukas Haas. “HIDE THIS! They can come for my money, they can come for my panty models, but they can never take my precious!!”
Earlier this summer, Leonardo DiCaprio’s name popped up in the news in a bad way. No, it wasn’t because everyone on his yacht got food poisoning after Jonah Hill sneezed on the on-boat buffet. It’s actually way more serious than that, and it could cost him some dollars in his bank account.
Leo got in trouble after the US Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative discovered that The Wolf of Wall Street was financed by a production company called Red Granite, who allegedly got financing courtesy of embezzled money from a Malaysian investment fund called 1MDB. 1MDB has been in huge trouble for shady money dealings for a while now. The DOJ’s KARI filed papers to seize assets worth $1 billion. The total amount that the DOJ says stinks of illegal activity is closer to $3.5 billion. They also accused a certain lead actor in The Wolf of Wall Street of going to Las Vegas with Red Granite in 2012 and gambling with $1.15 million that was withdrawn from a bank account connected to one belonging to 1MDB. They name the “lead actor” as “Hollywood Actor 1“. Basically, the DOJ were pointing their fingers at Leo in a “Don’t act like you didn’t know where this money was coming from, bro” way.
Leo’s shitty summer only got worse. He had to bail on a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, which was probably because he didn’t want to dodge questions about embezzled money while passing out party sandwiches. Then it was revealed that Leo’s environmental charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, might be involved in this mess too. According to The Telegraph, Malaysian businessman (and friend of Leo) Jho Low is said to have used dirty money to purchase marked-up bottles of champagne at Leo’s birthday party in 2013. He also allegedly paid $1.1 million for art at an LDF charity auction, and donated a $700,000 sculpture to another LDF auction.
Leo’s LDF isn’t a nonprofit; it’s actually a donor-advised fund which is connected to a nonprofit (the California Community Foundation). This means the LDF isn’t required to disclose information about revenue, expenditures, and disbursements. The Hollywood Reporter contacted both the LDF and the CCF with questions regarding transparency, but both declined to answer fully. That kind of stuff doesn’t look too great when a government agency is breathing down your neck and asking for the receipts.
Now Leo is being urged to dig under his bed for some of that dirty embezzled money and give it back. The Telegraph (via Page Six) reports that the DOJ recently said that certain donations to the LDF came directly from 1MDB. The DOJ isn’t crazy about people accepting embezzled money, apparently. And neither are other charities. Page Six says that earlier this week, the LDF received a letter from rainforest charity, Bruno Manser Fund, urging Leo to return the money that came from 1MDB. The charity added a thick layer of guilt to their request by saying that, as a designated UN Messenger of Peace, Leo has an obligation to help stop corruption.
What a moral dilemma Leo has in front of him. If he gives back the money, he’s pretty much admitting that he was definitely stuffing his pockets with dirty cash. If he doesn’t give the money back, he looks like a dirtbag. Actually, even if he does give the money back, he’ll still look like a dirtbag. It’s a real lose-lose-lose situation.
But I’m sure he’ll figure something out. I bet he’s meeting with members of the UN right now to discuss this horrible, embarrassing problem. Yeah, I’m sure that’s totally what he was doing at Nobu in Malibu on Tuesday night.