Apparently, Wall Street isn’t the only place where people do shady things with enormous sums of money. THR reports that, on Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against several Wolf of Wall Street financiers, alleging that hundreds of millions of dollars were embezzled during the production of the film.
United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has called this complaint the “largest single action” in the history of the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the filing outlines asset seizures of more than $1 billion, along with the civil forfeiture of rights to The Wolf of Wall Street. Allegedly the film was financed, in part, by money misappropriated from a Malaysian investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Although lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio is not specifically implicated, he is referred to several times as “Hollywood Actor 1” and is believed to have witnessed the use of embezzled funds in gambling activities during a 2012 trip to Las Vegas’ Venetian casino.
According to the complaint, DiCaprio joined Malaysian businessman Jho Low, and Red Granite Pictures co-founders Riza Aziz (stepson of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak) and Joey McFarland for a night of gambling financed by $1.15 million in funds siphoned from 1MDB, which is owned by the Malaysian government.
DiCaprio has reportedly been close with Low for quite some time, and the two have partied together frequently, even attending each other’s birthday celebrations. The actor thanked “Joey, Riz, and Jho,” specifically in his Golden Globe Acceptance speech, after winning the Best Actor (Drama) award for his Wolf of Wall Street role.
It has also been reported that Low introduced DiCaprio to Aziz, who created the production company Red Granite Pictures with the specific aim of funding Wolf of Wall Street, which was then a passion project in need of financial backing.
You’ll have to stay tuned to see if DiCaprio is questioned further about any potential wrongdoing, but either way, this sounds more like a story about Jordan Belfort than one of the most respected actors in Hollywood.
Let the bidding for the movie rights begin!