Leonardo DiCaprio, who premiered his new climate change documentary Before the Flood in London, has been asked to step down from his position at the United Nations and return the millions of dollars allegedly stolen from the Malaysian people and channelled into his environmental foundation.

The Swissrainforest charity Bruno Manser Fund, which fights for the conservation of tropical rainforests and the rights of Malaysian rainforest dwellers, is pressuring the actor to step down and return the money.

At a news conference over the weekend, the Fund’s director said the financial scandal DiCaprio’s embroiled in makes him unfit to be a U.N. Messenger of Peace for climate change.

DiCaprio is purported to have gotten millions of embezzled dollars from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, for starring in and producing The Wolf of Wall Street, a film about an unscrupulous Wall Street trader.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says the movie was funded in part by stolen Malaysian money routed to shell companies like Red Granite, which was co-founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister. Red Granite co-produced The Wolf of Wall Street movie.

Another player is Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman, a person of interest by the DOJ and Malaysian authorities. Low and his cohorts allegedly used the money to finance movies, purchase high-end properties in the U.S., and throw lavish fundraisers for Hollywood’s elite.

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Unacceptable financial ties

One person who benefited from Low’s largesse was Hollywood A-lister and Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio, duped into receiving stolen 1MDB money. Low also funnelled money into DiCaprio’s foundation after laundering it through various methods, such as selling or acquiring art at charity auctions.

Lukas Straumann, director of the Bruno Manser Fund, told reporters that, “Leonardo DiCaprio has consistently refused to explain his close personal and financial ties with key persons [involved in the] 1MDB scandal.”

Straumann has called on DiCaprio to either denounce his involvement with these individuals and return the now-laundered money he allegedly received via his foundation or to resign his U.N. post. DiCaprio was given the largely symbolic title by outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2014.

Corruption scandal eclipsing new film

At the press conference, Straumann and others pointed out the “direct link” between the corruption scandal and the environmental issues affecting Malaysia. One such issue is unfettered deforestation, also a concern of DiCaprio’s foundation.

All this comes ahead of DiCaprio’s new documentary about the so-called effects of catastrophic global warming, despite a well-publicized pause in rising temps since 1998. A disciple of Al Gore, the actor has been criticised heavily by environmental groups like the Sierra Club for not “walking the talk.”

DiCaprio is famous for using a private jet to travel around the world while calling climate change the greatest threat the planet faces. He also has a private yacht and mansions around the world. Critics accuse the actor of using his foundation as a tax-exempt haven for his multi-million dollar paychecks. Straumann said, “We can’t save the Environment if we fail to stop corruption,” calling DiCaprio’s criticism of deforestation in Indonesia and parts of Borneo “cynical hypocrisy.”

Banned in London

"He needs to become part of the solution," Straumann said at the press conference. "But today he is part of the problem." Since the press conference, DiCaprio has banned anyone from the Bruno Manser Fund from attending the premiere of his new movie Before the Flood in London. It airs on the National Geographic Channel Oct. 30.

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