Are Leonardo DiCaprio's earnings from the very good and very successful The Wolf of Wall Street now in jeopardy? Amid the ongoing Malaysian corruption scandal surrounding the Martin Scorsese instaclassic's financing, a top anti-corruption organization is calling for DiCaprio to "do the right thing" by paying back his Wolf money if federal authorities determine it too was acquired in a shady manner.
"If he knows these are corrupt funds, we would very much like to see him return them," Transparency International's Samantha Grant told the Hollywood Reporter Thursday of DiCaprio's Wolf earnings, estimated to have topped $25 million. "If that money is found by the DoJ to be corrupt, to not give it back sort of says that money that was due to go to the Malaysian public is sitting in Leonardo DiCaprio's account."
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice filed what THR declared a "record-breaking" seizure complaint that placed Malaysian businessman Jho Low at the center of its investigation and included more than $1 billion in assets. In a statement last week, DiCaprio's representative issued the Oscar-winning actor's first public response to the scandal.
"[DiCaprio] immediately had his representatives reach out to the Department of Justice to determine whether he or his foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), ever received any gifts or charitable donations directly or indirectly related to these parties, and if so, to return those gifts or donations as soon as possible," the statement claimed.
Legal experts speculated Thursday that the possibility of the feds stepping in and snatching earnings is pretty low. A doctrine called the "innocent owner defense," THR notes, protects those who may have genuinely come into corrupt money without even realizing it. But Grant still feels that simply offering the money now is the "right" thing to do. "We live in a very interesting world, so by Leonardo DiCaprio saying publicly that this is not ok, he's actually probably putting more pressure on prime minister Najib than maybe even the Department of Justice," Grant said.