REPRESENTATIVES of Leonardo DiCaprio says the Hollywood A-list actor had turned in the Oscar trophy won by Marlon Brando to investigators probing a massive scandal involving Malaysian sovereign fund 1MDB.
In a statement, the representative said the Academy Award was among several unidentified gifts handed to the US Department of Justice (DoJ). DiCaprio had accepted the items for a charity auction which originated from people connected to 1MDB.
The charity auction, the representatives said, was for the benefit of the actor’s eponymous foundation.
They said the Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando, was a gift by Red Granite Pictures, the company that produced The Wolf Of Wall Street, in which DiCaprio played the leading role.
After returning the Oscar, the representatives said: “DiCaprio is grateful for the support of the government in this effort, and continues to hope justice is done in this matter.”
Reuters on Thursday reported the department took legal action to recover about US$540 million in assets allegedly stolen by financiers associated with 1MDB, the fund established by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to promote economic development.
The assets included a Picasso painting that was given to DiCaprio and the rights to two Hollywood films.
The filing in the US District Court in Los Angeles was DoJ’s latest step in a long-running case over an alleged conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB.
In the complaints, which are all civil actions, the DoJ alleged more than US$4.5 billion was taken from 1MDB by high-level fund officials and their associates.
In October 2016, DiCaprio sought information on any ill-gotten gains he or his charity foundation may have received from parties involved in the scandal.
The actor contacted US authorities after learning of the government’s civil action against some of those involved in the scandal and the making of The Wolf of Wall Street, a film he also co-produced.
DiCaprio was unwittingly cast into the spotlight following the civil forfeiture suit by the DoJ against several luxury estates, artwork and other assets allegedly purchased with funds stolen from 1MDB.
According to the department, Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz and businessman Low Taek Jho, through the former’s firm Red Granite Pictures allegedly financed the production of the film in 2012 with US$61 million embezzled from 1MDB. The film was co-produced by DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions.
The Hollywood Reporter disclosed the actor’s foundation – the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation – had benefited from over US$2 million in cash and kind donations by Low since 2013.
While the actor is not faced with any criminal allegation or civil suits relating to the scandal, activists have accused DiCaprio of keeping in his possession a stolen Oscar statuette which was allegedly given to him as a gift for his 38th birthday by his friends from Red Granite Pictures.