PETALING JAYA: Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s decision to drop out of hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton is due to a scheduling conflict and has nothing to do with the 1MDB scandal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Josh Schwerin, a spokesman with the Clinton campaign, said any suggestion that the 1MDB scandal was connected to the Titanic star pulling out was completely false.
“It’s not at all true,” the entertainment portal quoted him as saying, adding that DiCaprio was also “gracious” enough to find a new host for the Democratic presidential nominee’s event on Tuesday.
DiCaprio’s rep, Shawn Sachs, also explained that scheduling conflict forced the actor to bow out.
The denials came following a report on Saturday by People magazine that DiCaprio would be in New York until Wednesday as he was filming a movie, although not as an actor.
It was reported last month that DiCaprio was in an “awkward and potentially legally-perilous situation” because of his ties to Wolf of Wall Street producers, Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland as well as controversial businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low).
The actor was referred to as “Hollywood Actor 1” in a suit filed by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on July 20 pertaining to misappropriation of 1MDB funds.
The entertainment publication reported that the DoJ had noted that DiCaprio went gambling at the Venetian casino, Las Vegas in 2012 along with Low, Riza and McFarland.
Riza and McFarland co-founded Red Granite Pictures which produced the movie that was based on Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who engaged in rampant corruption and fraud.
Meanwhile, THR also quoted a source with experience planning presidential fundraisers as stating that it would be a “no brainer” to keep DiCaprio away from a Clinton event amid the 1MDB suit and press reports.
In its civil suits last month, the DoJ specifically mentioned how Low had also gambled for approximately seven days at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas after US$11 million – from funds allegedly siphoned from 1MDB – were deposited into his account at the casino during the same trip in 2012.
DiCaprio, Low, Riza and McFarland had also apparently used money from Low’s account while in Las Vegas, with DoJ records showing a total withdrawal of US$1.15 million in one day.
The US DoJ is alleging that that over US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, over a period of four years and by multiple individuals, including Malaysian officials and their associates.
It specifically named Riza, who is Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson, Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.