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DOJ to Seize Picasso from Leonardo DiCaprio in Growing 1MDB Scandal

The Department of Justice filed a forfeiture last week to seize $540 million in assets, including a Picasso painting given to Leonardo DiCaprio, they say were purchased with stolen money from the Malaysian development fund, 1MDB. 

This new filing expands on last year’s seizure motions brought by the DOJ that estimates $4.5 billion of 1MDB funds were used illegally by public officials and others connected to the fund.

"This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people," Kenneth Blanco, acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement. 1MDB could not be immediately reached for comment.

Established in 2009 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the fund is intended to promote economic development in the nation.

Jho Low, a Malaysian financier, is accused of laundering more than $400 million stolen from the fund through an account in the United States, where he and his friends used the money to pay for lavish parties, gambling and yachts. Despite the civil allegations, U.S. authorities have not charged Low with any crime, reports Reuters.

In 2014, authorities say Low used $3.2 million to buy a Picasso painting for DiCaprio as a belated birthday gift. And then Low used $9.2 million diverted from 1MDB bond sales to buy a Jean-Michel Basquiat collage for DiCaprio.

DiCaprio and Low signed a note in March 2014 absolving the star of "any liability whatsoever resulting directly or indirectly from these art-work," according to the filings, and DiCaprio is returning the gifts.

Authorities are also seeking rights to films “Dumb and Dumber To,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” because the films were financed with money from 1MDB.

Also wanted by the DOJ is jewelry purchased by Low, including a 11.72-carat heart-shaped diamond allegedly gifted to Miranda Kerr, a prominent Australian model who was once married to Orlando Bloom.

The Justice Department’s investigation into the embezzlement of 1MDB funds is part of a department initiative to crack down of foreign kleptocrats.







Posted in The Takedown

Tags: Justice Department, DOJ, money laundering, kleptocrats


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