Clinton Campaign Denies Malaysia Link in DiCaprio Fundraiser Cancellation

Clinton Campaign Denies Malaysia Link in DiCaprio Fundraiser Cancellation
Photo Credit: AP / 達志影像

What you need to know

A Clinton campaign spokesperson said that any suggestion connecting DiCaprio dropping out of the fundraiser with Malaysia's 1MDB scandal would be completely false.

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has backed out of hosting a fundraiser for U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scheduled for tomorrow, citing scheduling conflicts.

This comes as DiCaprio, 41, has been linked to the 1MDB scandal in the United States Department of Justice's (DOJ) forfeiture lawsuit filed last month.

The DOJ is seeking to forfeit about US$1 billion in assets allegedly purchased with funds stolen from 1MDB.

This includes funds channelled to production house Red Granite Pictures, which is behind the "Wolf of Wall Street," starring DiCaprio.

In the civil action, DiCaprio is referred to only as "Hollywood Actor 1" and it is suggested that his foundation benefited from gifts from Red Granite, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's stepson Riza Aziz and controversial businessman Jho Low.

華爾街狼人劇照。photo credit: AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Mary Cybulski/達志影像
This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in 'The Wolf of Wall Street," from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Mary Cybulski)

Riza and Low were referred to by name in the DOJ civil action, along with two Abu Dhabi officials, Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohammed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

The Hollywood Reporter in its report quoted a source familiar with the Clinton fundraiser as saying that DiCaprio dropped out of hosting it because the actor-activist's new project would keep him in New York till Wednesday.

DiCaprio's representative, Shawn Sachs, also maintained that it was scheduling conflicts that caused the filmstar to bow out of his hosting duties.

Meanwhile, Hillary and Bill Clinton's charitable foundation has come under intense scrutiny during Hillary's presidential campaign, particularly for its connection to foreign money. The Clinton Foundation has said it would not accept foreign contributions if Hillary becomes president.

The Reporter said that a source with experience in planning presidential campaigns said it would be a "no brainer" to keep DiCaprio away from Hillary amid the 1MDB scandal, though another said presidential candidates have lower standards for vetting celebrity fundraisers.

Clinton campaign spokesperson Josh Schwerin also said that any suggestion connecting DiCaprio dropping out of the fundraiser with the 1MDB scandal would be completely false.

"If we could have had the event at his home, we would have loved to.

"He was gracious enough to find us a new host.

"We hope to do something with him in the future," Schwerin is reported as saying by the Reporter.

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have stepped in to replace DiCaprio to host the fundraising event.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

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First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole