Leonardo DiCaprio’s charity is latest alleged victim of Malaysian money-laundering scandal

Leonard DiCaprio
Leonard DiCaprio

Right now we surmise “The King of the World” would like that moniker to exclude Southeast Asia. In the continuing saga of the much-written-about money-laundering scheme that allegedly diverted $3.5 billion away from a Malaysian investment fund called 1MDB., the far-reaching scandal is now touching Hollywood big shot Leonardo DiCaprio.

Jho Low
Jho Low via Twitter

While the famed actor and philanthropist is not being accused of anything untoward, it appears that some donations to his charity, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation [LDF], came from from the multi-billion-dollar embezzlement scheme in Southeast Asia.

It would appear that DiCaprio’s connection to some Malaysian heavy hitters — namely Malaysian business man Jho Low and Malayasian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz — is creating quite a stir. However, in a nod to life imitating art, DiCaprio introduced Aziz to Joey McFarland who jointly set up Red Granite Pictures, the group which eventually landed the rights to “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Low was given a “special thanks” in the film’s credits and hailed as a “collaborator” in DiCaprio’s 2014 Golden Globes acceptance speech. Other notable involvement between the group includes Low and McFarland having helped raise more than $3 million for the charity by buying marked-up bottles of champagne. In addition it is being alleged that Low also used 1MDB funds to purchase $1.1M in artwork from a Christie’s auction to benefit LDF. Low also offered a sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein, 1982’s Brushstroke, valued at roughly $700,000, to the LDF.

Things seem to be a bit murky about the extent of the LDF’s actual involvement because of the way the group was set up. LDF was set up as a donor-advised fund (DAF) instead of a non-profit and as such is not require to file itemized public disclosures about its revenue, expenditures and pay-outs, according to a recent piece in the Hollywood Reporter.