by Raevathi Supramaniam in London
LONDON: Swiss-based activist group Bruno Manser Fund has urged actor Leonardo DiCaprio to return to the Malaysian people his earnings of about US$25 million from the movie “Wolf of Wall Street”.
The fund also urged DiCaprio to stand down as the United Nations Messenger of Peace for climate change.
“DiCaprio lacks the credibility for such a public role,” said the fund’s executive director, Lukas Straumann, who alleged that DiCaprio and his foundation had benefited from his involvement with Jho Low and Riza Aziz, with over US$2 million in donations received by his foundation.
“He owes the Malaysian people accountability on his financial ties to Jho Low and Riza Aziz,” Straumann said.
The Bruno Manser Fund is named after a Swiss activist who went missing in the Sarawak jungles while living with the Penan tribe and has been active on issues concerning the Sarawak rainforest and native rights.
The London press conference was also attended by Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism representative Sudhagaran Stanley, and Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle.
DiCaprio was in London for the premiere of his climate change documentary “Before the Flood”. He was invited to the press conference, but organisers seemed to have no illusions about him turning up, symbolically kept an empty chair bearing his portrait.
Speaking to reporters, Rewcastle Brown said DiCaprio was a hypocrite, and that all those involved in siphoning off funds from 1MDB, as alleged in a suit by the US Department of Justice, should be brought to account.
“He can party away in the most lavish fashion on the most gas guzzling yacht with the most devious companies and walk out the next day and call himself an eco-warrior and chucks the money the company gave him on an eco-project and pave his way to an Oscar branding,” she said.
Sudhagaran appealed to the international community to put pressure in bringing criminal prosecution against all those involved in the 1MDB saga.
“We want the main players to be prosecuted and charged, and the money that was siphoned out of 1MDB should be returned to the Malaysian people.”
On July 20, the DoJ in its civil suits to seize some US$1 billion worth of allegedly embezzled assets said that more than US$3.5 billion had been diverted from 1MDB.
The assets include several Beverly Hills mansions, a hotel, penthouse apartments in New York, a private jet, several works of art, and other assets.
The DoJ also sought to seize the future earnings of the film “Wolf of Wall Street”, produced by Red Granite Pictures under Riza Aziz.
The film reportedly earned US$390 million at the box office, and continues to earn royalties from television and other sources.
Last month, BMF called on DiCaprio and his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to disclose their full financial relationship with 1MDB. The group wrote to Swiss bank Julius Baer, the main bank linked to his foundation, to ask about acceptance of donations from “politically exposed persons” in Malaysia.