LOS ANGELES: Leonardo DiCaprio says he's awaiting direction from the US Justice Department regarding any ill-gotten funds that may have supported his environmental foundation or 2013 film "The Wolf of Wall Street."
The Oscar-winning actor released a statement through his representatives today saying he will return any gifts or donations connected to a Malaysian wealth fund, pending a fraud investigation of that fund by the US and other countries.
Court filings in connection with the investigations allege a complex money laundering scheme intended to enrich top-level officials of the Malaysian government-controlled wealth fund.
"Both Mr. DiCaprio and (the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) continue to be entirely supportive of all efforts to assure that justice is done in this matter," the statement said.
"Mr. DiCaprio is grateful for the lead and instruction of the government on how to accomplish this."
The Justice Department says that at least USD 3.5 billion has been stolen from the wealth fund, known as 1MDB, by people close to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib created the fund in 2009 shortly after he took office to promote economic development projects in the Asian nation, but the fund accumulated billions in debts over the years.
The Justice Department has initiated action to seize USD 1.3 billion it says was taken from the fund to buy assets in the US, including luxury properties in New York and California, a USD 35 million jet, art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and financing of "The Wolf of Wall Street," according to federal government complaints filed in Los Angeles in July.
The government complaints also say that more than USD 700 million has landed in the accounts of "Malaysian Official 1." They didn't name the official, but appear to be referring to Najib.
The Justice Department complaints also do not mention DiCaprio by name, but make an oblique reference to "Hollywood Actor 1," who during his Golden Globe acceptance speech thanked "the entire production team" and singled out several people close to Najib implicated in the scandal as "collaborators" on the film.
DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for his "Wolf of Wall Street" performance.
The Justice Department complaints identify the collaborators by name, including Najib's stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, who co-founded movie production company Red Granite Pictures.
Besides "The Wolf of Wall Street," other films produced by Red Granite include 2015's "Daddy's Home" and 2014's "Dumb and Dumber To.