Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation distances itself from Malaysian fund involved in probe

Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio’s charitable foundation would return gifts or donations made to him or his ventures if they were found to have come from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB, which is being investigated on money laundering allegations, his representatives said on Tuesday.

In his first comment on the multinational probe into the fund, DiCaprio said he was co-operating with US authorities to determine if money had come from questionable sources, according to the statement.

In July, a Hollywood production company was accused in a US civil lawsuit of using $100-million that prosecutors said had been diverted from the 1MDB fund to finance DiCaprio’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, in which he starred.

In a statement on Tuesday, DiCaprio’s representatives said he had first learned of the probe through press reports in July.

“He immediately had his representatives reach out to the Department of Justice to determine whether he or his foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, 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 statement said.

“All contact was initiated by Mr DiCaprio and LDF,” it said.

The production company, Red Granite Pictures, has said that to its knowledge none of the money it received was illegitimate and that it had done nothing wrong.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, set up in 1998, supports a range of environmental projects.

In August, the Hollywood Reporter published a story alleging that the actor’s foundation had benefited to the tune of some $2-million from cash and in-kind donations made by a Malaysian financier, who was named in the US lawsuit as being involved in the creation of the 1MDB fund.

The actor, who won an Oscar in 2016 for his role in The Revenant, is also a United Nations climate change “messenger of peace”, but he has come under pressure from some environmental activists to step down from the role following the 1MDB scandal.

DiCaprio’s representatives said in Tuesday’s statement that he had refrained from speaking about the matter until now “out of respect for (the) ongoing investigation, which has touched many charities, hospitals and individuals, who may have been unwitting recipients of funds now in question.”

Reuters
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