Rainforest Charity Questions DiCaprio Foundation Sponsor Over Donations Linked to Corruption Scandal
Bruno Manser Funds, which has already penned a letter to the star calling on him to return money linked to the 'Wolf of Wall Street' corruption scandal, has now written to private bank Julius Baer.
Just a week after it penned an open letter to Leonardo DiCaprio calling on the actor to return donations to his charity made by those connected to a major Malaysian corruption scandal and pay back his earnings from The Wolf of Wall Street, a rainforest charity has now turned its attention to a high-profile sponsor of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
The Bruno Manser Funds, which is active in Malaysian Borneo and links corruption in the country directly with deforestation, has sent a letter to Julius Baer, the Swiss-based private bank that acts as the Foundation's "long-term partner" and has sponsored each of its annual auctions held in St. Tropez, where its CEO Boris Collardi is an "event chair."
The letter from Bruno Manser executive director Lukas Straumann, who expresses concern over the lack of "usual transparency standards" at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, as highlighted by a major expose in The Hollywood Reporter, questions the bank's source of income.
"What kind of due diligence is being undertaken to ensure that funds accepted by Julius Baer on behalf of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation exclude proceeds of corruption or other unexplained wealth?" asks Straumann, before focusing on donations made by individuals at the center of a Justice Department complaint, specifically controversial businessman Jho Low and Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and co-founder of Red Granite, which produced The Wolf of Wall Street.
Straumann also questions Low's donation of a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture to the Foundation, which was auctioned off in 2015.
"Was this donation handled by Julius Baer and did Julius Baer conduct any due diligence on the source of Low's wealth?" he asks, questioning whether any other charitable gifts were made from Low, Aziz or "any other individuals connected directly or indirectly to the Malaysian state fund 1MDB."
Speaking to THR, Straumann said that political corruption in Malaysia has been a "major driver" of deforestation, an environmental issue that DiCaprio has been extremely vocal about through his charity.
Earlier this year, Julius Baer agreed to a $547 million payment to U.S. authorities after admitting to having conspired to defraud the IRS by helping taxpayers hide billions of dollars in offshore accounts.