Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio was urged Friday to step down from his climate change position with the United Nations or renounce connections to a group that allegedly embezzled millions to gain favor with the White House.
The Bruno Manser Funds wants the actor to forfeit his special designation as U.N. Messenger of Peace after revelations the Oscar-award winning actor was tied to the Malaysian Fund 1MDB scandal. A foreign businessman used money from the Malaysian Fund to secure a White House visit for relatives of the Malaysian prime minister, according to public officials.
The nearly $3 billion scandal is being called the world’s biggest white-collar crime.
“If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role,” Lukas Straumann, director of the Switzerland-based charity, told reporters at a press conference Thursday in London. The Bruno Manser Fund has a particular interest in protecting Malaysian rain forests.
Environmentalist reports show that one of 1MDB’s initiatives was to “pay off the chief minister of Sawarak,” the Malaysian state on the vast island of Borneo where the 30-year rule of controversial governor Abdul Taib Mahmud who oversaw deforestation on a grand scale.
Straumann called DiCaprio’s criticism of deforestation in Malaysia, among other Indonesian-controlled rain forests, “cynical hypocrisy.”
Federal investigators believe more than $10 million was allegedly embezzled from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., also known as 1MDB, and directed to businessman Frank White Jr., according to people connected to the probe.
White, an entrepreneur who helped start an investment firm called DuSable Capital Management LLC, raised funds for both President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
DiCaprio allegedly used millions of dollars diverted from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund for his role as star and producer of The Wolf of Wall Street. He also received the embezzled funds from Jho Low, the Malaysian businessman heavily involved in the deal. Low is a former close associate of DiCaprio’s.
DiCaprio is then alleged to have shoveled the funds directly into his charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
The actor turned part-time environmentalist backed out of hosting a campaign fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in August because he was ironing out kinks in his global warming documentary, “Before The Flood.”
The Hollywood Reporter speculated Aug. 20 that DiCaprio pulled out of the fundraiser because of his links to the $3 billion Malaysian embezzlement scandal.
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