Academy Award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio appeared covertly before a Washington, D.C. grand jury to testify as part of the DOJ’s investigation into the looting of Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
According to reports, prosecutors believe DiCaprio, pictured left, is a witness and can provide insight into 1MDB mastermind Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
Prosecutors said in court papers that Low allowed DiCaprio to gamble on his tab at The Venetian casino in Las Vegas, gifted him pieces of art, and helped him secure funding for the film The Wolf of Wall Street.
DiCaprio starred in the movie, alongside Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Matthew McConaughey.
Low and DiCaprio were introduced by Riza Shahriz bin Abdul Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, according to prosecutors.
The DOJ said around $4.5 billion was looted from 1MBD by Malaysian officials.
DiCaprio is not a target of the investigation, according to the report.
In November, Tim Leissner, the former Goldman Sachs chairman in Southeast Asia, pleaded guilty to FCPA and money laundering conspiracies in connection with a plot to loot the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund formally known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Leissner was ordered to forfeit $43.7 million as part of his plea deal. He’s waiting to be sentenced.
Another ex-Goldman banker, Ng Chong Hwa, 51, also known as Roger Ng, was charged by the DOJ with conspiring to violate the FCPA and launder money.
The DOJ alleged that Low, Ng, Leissner, and others conspired to bribe officials at 1MDB and in Abu Dhabi to win business for Goldman, including bond deals in 2012 and 2013. The defendants allegedly stole the proceeds from the bond deals and used some of the money to pay bribes.
The DOJ said the defendants conspired to launder the money in the United States by buying “luxury residential real estate in New York City and elsewhere, and artwork from a New York-based auction house, and by funding major Hollywood films,” including the Wolf of Wall Street.
In Malaysia last year, police charged former PM Najib Razak and his wife with laundering money looted from 1MDB.
During raids on the couple’s houses and condos, Malaysian police recovered $273 million worth of jewelry, handbags, and other valuables.
Jho Low is on the run and many believe he is hiding out in China.
Harry Cassin is the managing editor of the FCPA Blog.