Leonardo DiCaprio Urged to Discuss Ties to Malaysian Corruption Scandal at Environmental Debate (Exclusive)
The Bruno Manser Fund rainforest charity is holding the public debate the day before DiCaprio's environmental doc 'Before the Flood' has its European premiere at the London Film Festival.
With Leonardo DiCaprio remaining silent over his connections to the multibillion-dollar Malaysian corruption scandal that has enveloped the star, The Wolf of Wall Street and its producer Red Granite and is now the subject of a major Department of Justice investigation, one charity has taken matters into its own hands.
The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund, which actively campaigns for the protection of Malaysia's rainforests and has already called on DiCaprio to return the "dirty money" he earned from Wolf of Wall Street and donations made to his charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, is now planning to hold a special public debate in London titled 'Recovery of Stolen Malaysian State Assets.'
In an open letter seen exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, the charity's executive director Lukas Straumann personally invited DiCaprio to the event, which is being held on Oct. 14, the day before Before the Flood, the star's latest environmental documentary, is given the red-carpet treatment at the BFI London Film Festival.
"Undoubtedly, you will be traveling to London to present the movie’s important message on climate change to the European public," wrote Straumann. "On this occasion, we would like to invite you to debate the detrimental effects of grand corruption on Malaysian society and the environment with civil society representatives from Malaysia, the U.K. and Switzerland."
Straumann has previously linked the Malaysian corruption scandal, which stemmed from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund and saw billions of dollars laundered in the U.S. on luxury property, artworks and in Hollywood, directly with deforestation in the Southeast Asian country, one of the chief concerns of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
In a major exposé published in August, THR looked into the workings of the foundation, questioning its ties to 1MDB and a lack of transparency, as well as DiCaprio's relationship with controversial businessman Jho Low and Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and co-founder of Red Granite.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is alleged to have received money from a Christie’s charity auction in 2013, where Low is alleged to have used $1.1 million of diverted 1MDB funds to buy two works of art. Later that year, Low and Red Granite co-founder Joey McFarland were among those reported to have helped raise $3 million for the foundation by buying marked-up bottles of champagne at DiCaprio’s birthday party. And just last year, Low donated a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture to the foundation, which auctioned it off at a star-studded charity event in St. Tropez.
In his letter to DiCaprio, the Bruno Manser Fund's Straumann says that he hopes the actor will explain his connections to individuals involved in the money-laundering scandal, and now named in the Justice Department filing.
"We would be interested in learning more on the financial ties of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Appian Way Productions and you personally with Riza Aziz, Low Taek Jho and their associates," he adds.
The debate is set to take place 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at London's Free Word Center.