Leonardo DiCaprio was in London on Saturday to screen his environmental awareness documentary, Before The Flood. Over the last few months, I’ve written a few times about The Hollywood Reporter’s ongoing and extensive coverage of Leo’s alleged connection to the Malaysian money scandal. At the end of August, the Bruno Manser Funds, a charitable organisation trying to save the Malaysian rainforest, called Leo out for his possible link to corruption and for allegedly accepting funds that were the direct result of said corruption both on behalf of his own charity and one of his film projects, The Wolf Of Wall Street.
This weekend, The Bruno Manser Funds held a press conference ahead of Leo’s screening in London. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
At a press conference in London, the Bruno Manser Funds offered DiCaprio an ultimatum: either he renounce his connections to the "politically exposed persons" at the center of the multi-billion dollar 1MDB Malaysian corruption scandal now being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and return corrupt money he allegedly received or resign from the position he was given by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in 2014.
"If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role," said Lukas Straumann, director of the Switzerland-based charity, which has a particular focus on deforestation in Malaysia.
DiCaprio is alleged to have received millions of dollars diverted from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund for his role as star and producer of The Wolf of Wall Street, alleged by the DOJ to have been funded by stolen Malaysian money and produced by Red Granite, co-founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and a major figure in a DOJ filing. He is also alleged to have received laundered 1MDB money for his charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, from his former close associate Jho Low, the controversial Malaysian businessman at the heart of the scandal.
Two executives from the Bruno Manser Funds had tickets to the Before The Flood premiere but were then apparently blocked from entering the event. They later told THR that they were exercising their democratic right to protest and should have been allowed to see the movie.
Leo, meanwhile, has yet to comment on the situation, probably because few media outlets have bothered to pick up the story, even though The Hollywood Reporter has been pretty tenacious in pushing it. He’s Leo, after all. The Alpha Wolf is rarely challenged, not from within Hollywood and not outside of it either. And it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change.
Back in September, The Hollywood Reporter published a story about Leo and Marlon Brando’s missing Oscar for On The Waterfront. The Oscar was gifted to Leo by Riza Aziz and Jho Low, the two men implicated in the Malaysian money scandal. The suggestion here is that they used embezzled money to purchase the statue to please Leo on his 38th birthday. This is typically an activity that the Academy discourages – the sale and trade of their awards. Whenever possible, if the original winners are not in possession of their Oscars, the Academy tries to recover the statues for their archives. And Marlon Brandon’s statue has been the subject of some intrigue for some time because no one really knows how he lost it. Given the shady way Leo seems to have acquired it, some think it’s especially curious why the Academy hasn’t aggressively pursued the return of Marlon Brando’s Oscar they way they’ve pursued other memorabilia. But, remember, Leo himself is a member of the Academy and he has helped the Academy hunt down other items for their museum. So maybe it doesn’t matter to them that one of their own allegedly has ties to international thieves. Click here to read THR’s full report on Leo’s controversial ownership of the Marlon Brando Oscar. Tell me again why we have to talk about this guy like he’s some kind of saint?
David M. Benett/ Mike Marsland/ Getty Images