Los Angeles, June 16 (IANS) Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s art possessions and films “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home” were made using funds channeled from a Malaysian government investment fund, according to US officials.
On Thursday, prosecutors here claimed that it is part of an enormous international fraud. Corrupt officials and financiers stole $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad between 2009 and 2015, laundering the money through a series of shell companies with bank accounts in the US and abroad, according to hollywoodreporter.com.
Prosecutors filed to recover $1.7 billion.
The Justice Department says millions in stolen money was funnelled through Red Granite Pictures, a Los Angeles production company. The government is laying claim to the movie rights from all films in question, as well as any profits.
Additionally, gifts given to a couple of celebrities, including high-priced paintings once owned by DiCaprio, are now possibly in the government’s possession, hollywoodreporter.com said.
Last year, a similar complaint was made in California federal court with respect to “The Wolf of Wall Street”, the Oscar-nominated film directed by Martin Scorsese.
The film was allegedly funded with assets from a fund called 1Malaysia Development Berdhard (1MDB), then diverted into shell companies. Some of the money is said to have gone to Red Granite, run by CEO Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
DiCaprio’s spokesperson said in a statement: “Last July, upon hearing of the government’s civil action against certain parties involved in the making of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, DiCaprio’s representatives — working under his instruction — initiated contact with the Department of Justice.
“This effort was to determine if there were any gifts or charitable donations originating from the parties named in the civil complaint, and to offer the return of any such gifts or donations with the aid and instruction of the government.
“Prior to the government’s filing of the civil pleading today, DiCaprio initiated return of these items, which were received and accepted by him for the purpose of being included in an annual charity auction to benefit his eponymous foundation.
“He has also returned an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando, which was given to DiCaprio as a set gift by Red Granite to thank him for his work on ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. DiCaprio is grateful for the support of the government in this effort and continues to hope that justice is done in this matter.”